The 30 January Emergency General Meeting of the Campaign for Socialism (CfS — Scottish Momentum) agreed to support Monica Lennon for elected leader of the Scottish Labour Party. The ballot runs from 9 to 26 February.
Lennon is not a member of the CfS and has not sought its support. Nor is Lennon overly left-wing.
Lennon was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016, having previously been a councillor in South Lanarkshire. She backed Richard Leonard in the 2017 leadership contest and led the campaign against period poverty which led to Holyrood legislating for free period products.
In other circumstances, she would not be a natural candidate to win support from the left. But the current circumstances are defined by the fact that the other candidate in the leadership contest is Anas Sarwar.
A vote for Monica Lennon is a vote against Anas Sarwar. It’s as simple as that.
Sarwar, the odds-on favourite in the contest, is hailed in the media as an accomplished politician. In fact, his “political” skills are a mix of charlatanism and clientelism.
Following in the footsteps of his father — a millionaire businessman who is now Governor of the Punjab — Sarwar was elected MP for Glasgow Central in 2010, lost the seat in 2015, and was elected as a regional list MSP in 2016.
In 2017 he stood for Scottish Labour leader against Richard Leonard. His campaign was marred by the revelation that part of his income was derived from the Sarwar family business — which did not recognise a trade union and did not pay its workers the Scottish Living Wage.
For the next three years Sarwar spent his time stabbing Richard Leonard in the back, briefing the media against him, and generally undermining him.
In 2018 Sarwar was sacked from Scottish Labour’s front bench at Holyrood, along with MSP Jackie Baillie, for briefing the media against Leonard. He should have been sacked a lot sooner.
But now there is a real prospect that Scottish Labour could end up with Sarwar as leader, with Baillie already installed as deputy leader. That would be a victory for bullying and intimidation, a victory for those who refuse to accept democratic votes when they go against them.
And it would be a disaster for Scottish Labour. Sarwar is promising to rebuild the party if elected leader. But it was his politics and self-centred careerism which wrecked it in the first place.