Firstly, he gets the key issue of health inequalities. In his launch speech – he described it as “our national shame, with inequalities in life expectancy of nearly 30 years between the richest and poorest communities in Scotland. And that this ultimate inequality is down to inequalities in power, wealth, and income. Income inequalities that has the top 1% having the same income as the bottom 50%”. He clearly understands that health inequalities is not simply a health service issue, but is about justice – social justice.
At his launch campaign and since then, Richard has begun to set out a vision of fresh Labour Socialist values, brimming with ideas and policies about how to tackle inequalities and create a fairer society. I met him at the New Economics Forum with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell before the election this year. At this brilliant event (which sadly the labour shadow cabinet at the time didn’t engage with or participate in), Richard chaired an enlightening session on energy and the green economy – looking to Germany for ideas about local municipal ownership solutions.
From the few times I have met Richard, and from what I have observed during this campaign, he matches this vision and policy strengths, with passion and compassion – grounded in values. I believe his leadership style will not be the me, me, me charismatic in your face approach – one which I believe we neither want nor need at this time. But I know he is a fighter and campaigner for social justice – something he has done all his working and political life. We want a leader who is a listener, who is authentic, who is consistent, who can articulate and stand-up for our Labour values.
For these reasons I will be voting Richard for leader of the Scottish Labour Party and urge you too.