Welcome to a new feature for ScotlandVotes ahead of May’s election. We’re calling it #16for16. 16 candidates that will be making an impact during the campaign and may be making a bigger impact in the Holyrood chamber after the election.
Our eighth profile is the Scottish Labour’s Richard Leonard.
What’s your name? Richard Leonard
Where are you standing? Airdrie & Shotts constituency and the Central Scotland list
Which party are you standing for? Scottish Labour
How old are you? 54
What is your current job/role? GMB Union Organiser
What have been your previous jobs/roles? Scottish TUC Assistant Secretary/economist and Research Assistant to the late Alex Falconer MEP
Why are you standing? To bring all that trade union and industrial experience into the Parliament. It is this experience above all else which drives me to fight for the real political change working people need.
Earliest political memory? The 1970 Leeds clothing factory workers strike – later dramatised by Colin Welland and watching Harold Wilson on the TV – in black and white!
First election you can remember? The February 1974 General Election, Heath vs the Miners. We’d had power cuts, a 3 day week, we had no doubt which side we were on.
Where do you see Scotland in five years? Over the 2014 referendum and at last looking forward, to a more equal, more tolerant, more diverse and democratic society and playing its part in a worldwide movement for change.
Favourite campaigning anecdote? Campaigning in the Ayrshire village of Crosshill in 2011, an old man declared himself a socialist and said his father had been the head woodcutter on the Kilkerran estate. The Marquis of Ailsa arranged for a car to take his father and mother down to vote at every election – where with a stubby pencil at every General Election he voted for Keir Hardie’s son-in-law, Emrys Hughes.
Tell us something not many people know about you I have kept a political diary for most of the last 25 years. When I drove Tony Benn around Scotland during his 1988 leadership bid he told me to record everything in a diary and within a couple of years I began to do exactly that.
Biggest vice/guilty pleasure? Combing second hand book shops.
What do you perceive to be the next big issue in Scottish politics? The most important division in society is not between Scotland and England but between those who create the wealth and those who own it. The growing gap between private wealth and public poverty is alarming. It will not be resolved until there is a real redistribution of power in our economy & society. That’s the big issue.
Favourite place in the world? The Keir Hardie room at the Baird Institute in Cumnock. A permanent exhibition of items from Hardie’s life in politics including his writing desk and book collection, it inspires me every time I go there.
How do you relax away from politics? Reading, watching cricket and talking about taking up cycling and dancing but never getting round to it.
Other #16for16 profiles: