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  1. Spotlight on Policy
23 July 2018

Scottish Labour councillors say Ruth Davidson is a more effective leader than Richard Leonard or Jeremy Corbyn

In our anonymous survey, Scottish Labour councillors admitted to a surprising admiration for their adversary's leader.

By Jonny Ball

Scottish Labour councillors are more impressed with the leadership qualities of Ruth Davidson than they are with the records of their own leaders, our survey has revealed.

Exclusive research by Spotlight can reveal that 71% of Scottish Labour councillors think Davidson is doing a “good” or “very good” job as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, compared with only 65% who said the same of Richard Leonard as leader of Scottish Labour, and a dismal 52% who said the same of Jeremy Corbyn as the UK’s Labour leader.

Spotlight sent surveys on Scottish politics and the future of the Scottish economy to each of the over 1,200 local government councillors representing every local authority in the country. The results are printed in more detail in the latest edition of Spotlight, which also includes an in-depth interview with Ruth Davidson and pieces by Richard Leonard and the SNP’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay. 

The survey results will be discouraging for the Labour left in Scotland. Many had hoped that the leadership of Corbyn loyalist Richard Leonard would revive the hopes of the Scottish Labour Party, which bled support to Nicola Sturgeon’s progressive nationalist SNP and took fewer seats than the Scottish Conservatives in 2016 for first time since the establishment of the devolved parliament in 1999.

Davidson’s success has been attributed to her having positioned the Scottish Tories as the party for those who support a united UK, and in the EU; her performance in the 2016 referendum debate was widely admired. Labour’s position in the Scottish opinion polls has remained unchanged, hovering consistently around 25 per cent.

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