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15 November 2017

Scottish Labour leadership election: What are Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar’s policies?

The two leadership candidates compared. 

By Julia Rampen

Richard Leonard is a trade unionist who considers himself “too long in the tooth to be a Corbynista”. Anas Sarwar is a political prodigy who nonetheless describes himself as the “anti-establishment candidate”. But what if you’re not interested in the person, just the policy?

Here’s what you need to know about the two candidates vying to be elected Scottish Labour leader in the leadership election. Voting closes at midday on Friday 17 November 2017. 

Both Sarwar and Leonard have pledged to end private schools’ exemption from non-domestic rates (in other words, charge business rates of tax), and both want to alleviate the impact of the benefit cap and the Universal Credit roll out. 

In terms of how they’d accomplish their pledges, Leonard stresses the government’s clout when procuring services, while Sarwar emphasises the devolved powers over welfare. 

Here’s where they stand on other issues:

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Campaign against the benefit freeze and cap, and against the roll out of Universal Credit. 
Increase child benefit by £5 a week for every child in Scotland. 

Campaign against the benefit freeze and cap, and against the roll out of Universal Credit. 
Turn GP practices into community hubs, with welfare advisers on hand.
Create a means-tested child tax credit of £10 a week, funded by Holyrood.


A 1 per cent windfall wealth tax on the top 10 per cent to invest in public services. 

A more progressive tax system, with tax rises for those earning more than £28,300 a year and less tax to pay for those earning less. 


Says he’s “in line with Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn”. Will reject a Brexit deal that doesn’t protect workers’ rights, EU citizens’ rights, and the environment. 

Supports staying in single market and customs union permanently.


A “Mary Barbour Law” (named after a historic rent striker) controlling rents and limiting landlord powers.
Building new homes for affordable social rent.
A “use it or lose it” approach to developers sitting on unused land.

Building 25,000 homes, a mix of social, affordable and private, every year.
A levy on empty homes designed to encourage them back into use.
A £10bn Scottish housing investment bank.


Extend free school meals to primary years four to seven.
Use the money from hiking private school taxes to fund school trips for those who can’t afford it.
Provide grants to help families pay for school uniforms. 

Create a legal right for deprived pupils to have support from teaching assistants.
Provide grants to help families pay for school uniforms. 


Use government contracts only to hire companies paying a real living wage, that recognise trade unions, don’t use zero hours contracts and pay a fair share of tax.

Introduce non-compliance penalties for companies that don’t have proper female representation on boards.
Open apprenticeships to all ages.


Appoint a cabinet secretary for health equality. 

More places at university for future NHS workers.


Create a National Energy Corporation to cut bills and tackle fuel poverty.
An industrial strategy for Scotland.

Change party rules to create two deputy leaders, one of which is always a woman.