SNP juggernaut has swept Labour aside, admits Richard Leonard

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has described results for his party as “deeply disappointing”.

With Labour losing seats to the SNP in Scotland and to the Conservatives in England, Mr Leonard said his party’s message had failed to break through against the “din of Brexit” and the debate over whether there should be a second independence referendum.

He said Labour had “tried to talk about what we felt were important things”, as he said he regretted deeply that the party had lost MPs such as Danielle Rowley to the SNP in Midlothian.

Labour’s Ged Killen also lost his Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat to the SNP, while former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill won the East Lothian constituency from Martin Whitfield.

Mr Leonard told BBC Scotland: “These are deeply disappointing results.”

While he said he is sorry for those candidates who have lost out, he added: “More than that I am sorry for all those kids in all those families who are going to live for another five years in poverty when we had a chance in this election to make a real difference to people’s lives.

“I think there is no doubt we said we wanted to get through the din of Brexit and the constitutional issue in Scotland and I just don’t think we were able to do that sufficiently and effectively enough.

“We need to reflect on that and learn the lessons from that.”

He said Labour had attempted to campaign on key issues such as the “rise in poverty and inequality, the squeeze on public services like the National Health Service that we have experienced over the last decade”.

Mr Leonard said his party is “going to need to have a look at what we said about Brexit, what we said about the whole constitutional question in Scotland”.

But he added: “I don’t think it is so simple as to say if only we had an absolutely cast iron message, that would have made all of the difference.

“Because parties that have stood in this election with what people described as clear, cast iron, absolutist positions have also been swept aside by the SNP juggernaut.”