Motherwell MSP dismisses ‘speculation’ over his future

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland
Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland this week dismissed speculation that he could step down to provide a Holyrood seat for prospective new Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy.

A Sunday newspaper report suggested that he could be a candidate to make way if Mr Murphy, shadow international development secretary at Westminster, decided to switch to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 as part of a bid to succeed Johann Lamont.

But Mr Pentland insisted the report was pure speculation.

He said: “I said a while back that I intended to defend the seat, and that has not changed.

“The next 18 months will be a challenging time, addressing the political aftermath of the referendum, with further devolution already in the pipeline and more guaranteed to follow.

“And of course, there is also a UK election that will keep me busy, working to ensure that Frank Roy is returned with a healthy majority.”

On Johann Lamont’s resignation, he added: “Johann stepped into the job at a very difficult time.

“She has been a principled leader who has not been afraid to speak her mind, and to confront and discuss uncomfortable choices, such as between universal measures that disproportionately benefit the rich, versus targetted measures that give more support to the less well off.

“I doubt that she was ever surprised by the resultant abuse from nationalists, in lieu of any rational argument.

“That was to be expected – but I do think she deserved better support than she got from others for that discussion to take place.”

Regarding the leadership contest the MSP outlined what he felt were the main tasks awaiting Johann Lamont’s successor

He said: “The Scottish Labour Party needs a leader who will tackle the pretence that the SNP acts in the interests of working people and the poor and vulnerable in society.

“They need to do that not just by exposing the way in which the nationalists’ actions do not live up to their rhetoric.

“They need to make it clear that Scottish Labour is the party whose commitment to genuinely radical policies will deliver greater social justice and improved living standards for the people of Scotland; and give power back to local democracy and communities, rather than centralising power in the Scottish Government.”