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Sir Keir does not believe Mr Leonard can turn the party around, sources say, after a YouGov poll found only 14 percent of people plan to vote Labour in next year’s Holyrood election. The Labour leader reportedly cemented his opinions after a series of digital meetings with Scottish voters who said they didn’t know who Leonard was but heaped praise on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
A source told The Times: “There is no animosity borne towards Richard, there is just no confidence in him.”
It comes after a YouGov poll found Mr Leonard has an approval rating of minus 27 and more than half (53 percent) of Scots said they don’t have an opinion on the leader who has been at the helm of the Scottish Labour Party for three years.
Of those who do, 36 percent had a negative view, with just 8 percent favourable.
Mrs Sturgeon, by contrast, was viewed in a positive light by 66 percent, with just 30 percent seeing her in a negative one.
In a separate YouGov poll released last month, it was revealed nearly 60 percent of Scots could not identify Mr Leonard.
A spokesman for Sir Keir dismissed the claims as “nonsense” and said: “This past week Keir Starmer and the Scottish Labour Party have been 100 per cent focused on protecting the education and opportunities of young people.”
While a spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party added: “Richard Leonard is clear that he will be leading Scottish Labour into next year’s Scottish parliament election on a platform to rebuild Scotland.”
The dismissal comes after think tank Our Scottish Future released a report to Scottish MPs, warning the Labour Party is in “peril”.
The damning report said polling has “consistently indicated seat losses” for some time.
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The report told MSPs: “In Nicola Sturgeon, Labour are facing a popular and highly effective politician who is capable of consistently elevating her party.”
Under Leonard’s leadership Scottish Labour came in fifth place at the European Parliament elections and lost six of its seven MPs at the December 2019 General Election.
Sir Keir has pledged to bring an end to years of bitter infighting and work with the Government when it is the right thing to do, while testing Boris Johnson’s arguments and challenging the failures.
The defeat of Rebecca Long-Bailey – an ally of the outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn – and the election of Angela Rayner as Mr Starmer’s deputy, heralded the end of the party leadership’s embrace of a radical socialism that was crushed in the December election.
He is seeking to break away definitively from the Corbyn era and reduce Labour’s reliance on left-wing unions.
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