MSP Johann Lamont is the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, She takes over from Iain Gray and has a wider remit.
She was elected from three tiers of Labour Party voters by a substantial majority of 51.77% over MSP Ken Macintosh who polled 40.28% and Westminster MP Tom Harris who polled 7.95%.
Her deputy is Anas Sarwar Westminster MP. He won his post by 51.10% against MP Ian Davidson who polled 33.28% and MSP Lewis Macdonald who polled 15.62%.
The results of the leadership campaigns were announced on Saturday 17 December in Edinburgh.
Both the new leader and her deputy are Glasgow based. Representing Pollok, former teacher Johann was brought up in Anderston of Gaelic speaking parents from Tiree. Former dentist Anas, whose seat is Glasgow Central, is a Southsider whose father was the first Muslim MP at Westminster.
Said Johann: ‘While I am delighted and honoured to be elected leader of Scottish Labour Party, I believe the real work starts now. In May, we fell short of people’s expectations and they turned away from us, unable to find a reason to give us their support. If we are to earn the right to serve the country, our challenge is to listen, to learn lessons and to demonstrate that we can change. I am confident that once again people will recognise that Scottish Labour is the party which understands their lives, can deliver their hopes and will stand up for Scotland.’
Added Anas: ‘It is a tremendous honour and privilege to have been elected as the new deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party. I want to thank members from across the movement for their fantastic support. Scottish Labour will always put the interests of the people of Scotland first and work to build a more inclusive, equal and prosperous country: an ambitious Scotland, within a successful United Kingdom, not just talking about change, but leading it. I will work resolutely behind our new leader to make sure that the changes that are needed happen. This process of renewal is for one key purpose: to give the people of Scotland a Labour Party that they can trust, a Labour Party they can believe in, and a Labour Party that can win.’
Senior Labour Party figures congratulated the new leader.
Ed Miliband MP, leader of the Labour Party, said: Many congratulations to Johann, the new and the first Scottish Labour leader. It was right to create this powerful new position which carries with it the weight and authority of the whole party in Scotland. Scottish Labour needed to make this radical change to reflect the reality of the devolution that Labour delivered. Johann’s mission is to win back the trust of Scots and challenge the SNP – a party that is cutting capital spending and public sector jobs faster even than George Osborne. As the leader of the whole Scottish party, she will command the support of all the Scottish Labour Parliamentarians, and I look forward to working with her and Anas as colleagues and friends.’
Margaret Curran MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, said: ‘I warmly congratulate Johann and Anas, who both ran excellent campaigns. This election has been fought in a comradely and good-natured fashion, not least because all the candidates know we have to change and change radically, but it has also invigorated our local parties and many of our supporters. I and the 41 Scottish Labour MPs who hold the UK government to account day in, day out, look forward to working with our new leader to make sure that Scottish Labour is back on the park doing what the people of our country expect: speaking out and doing what is right for Scotland.’
For more information on the leadership election and process see: http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/leadership
The Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster has called the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Glasgow City Council to account over the threatened removal of 1300 asylum seekers from their Glasgow homes with only a couple of days’ notice.
On Wednesday 19 January the Committee will hear evidence from both the UK Borders Agency and Glasgow City Council.
Damian Green, Minister of State for Immigration at the Home Office will be the first witness. Followed by Phil Taylor, Regional Director for the Scotland and Northern Ireland Region (Immigration Group) of the Home Office. Matthew Coats, Head of Immigration at UKBA will also face the Committee.
When Committee Chair Ian Davidson of Glasgow South West, met with the UK Borders Agency in Glasgow in November when the situation arose, he said: ‘We are very concerned about the impact of the UK Border Agency’s decision to terminate its contract with Glasgow City Council. In particular, we find the manner in which UKBA communicated its decision to the individuals and families involved – via a letter threatening only a very short notice period for people to leave their homes – extremely troubling. The aim of our inquiry is not only to establish the facts around this case but also to ensure everything possible is done so that families do not have to endure such a distressing situation again.’
Following months of negotiations, the UKBA abruptly terminated its 10-year-contract with Glasgow City Council to provide accommodation for asylum seekers.
Soon after that, Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar brokered a meeting in Glasgow of all the agencies concerned, including the housing providers, the Scottish Refugee Council and social work back-up staff.
Scotland Office Minister, David Mundell, attended the round table discussion in the City Chambers to hear, first-hand, the distress caused by the UK Borders Agency when it cancelled the housing contract.
Said MP Anas Sarwar: ‘We need UKBA to come up with a realistic timetable for a transfer of people and staff, that will not involve any more upheaval for 1,311 people who have suffered enough. It’s vital this timetable is communicated effectively to all concerned.
‘I’m pleased that David Mundell has agreed to take these objectives back to immigration Minister Damian Green.’
Mr Mundell told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘These difficulties are no reflection on the quality of service Glasgow City Council has provided nor of the welcome that has been extended. That has been outstanding.’
Glasgow City Councillor Matt Kerr, Executive Member for Social Care, said: ‘It was a constructive meeting. I’m pleased that UKBA acknowledged that the 2 February transfer deadline will not now be met. As a city council we’re obviously hugely disappointed that this contract has been terminated by UKBA despite the fact that we came back with a reduced offer when the initial offer was rejected as too costly. However, we have a duty of care to asylum seekers and to staff and we will continue to support them through this transition process, however long it takes.’