Drew Smith, a former MSP and current GMB official, has been appointed today as Scottish Labour’s acting general secretary after Michael Sharpe announced earlier this week that he was quitting the top post.
Sharpe revealed on Monday that he was resigning ahead of Scottish parliamentary elections taking place in May next year as he could not “give my young family and the party I love the commitment that they each deserve”.
The party has now picked Smith to replace Sharpe on an interim basis until the elections in May. The Scottish Labour politician, who served as MSP for the Glasgow region from 2011 to 2016, will take up his post on January 4th.
Smith was Scottish Labour’s frontbench spokesperson on social justice during his time in the Scottish parliament. He currently works as GMB Scotland’s policy and external affairs officer and has represented the union on Labour’s Scottish executive committee.
Commenting on his appointment, Smith said: “2021 is both an important and fast-approaching election for Scotland and for the Labour Party. The events of the last year have shown more than ever how important it is that the voices of working people are heard in Scottish politics.
“The campaign ahead is our chance to take our message to the people of Scotland, but also for all of the talented and committed people already in our party to be included and to get involved.
“Working together, I believe we can see our party growing again and I will also work hard to again make Scottish Labour a welcoming place for all who share our values.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “I am looking forward to working with Drew to gear up the party for next year’s election. He is an experienced campaigner and widely respected across the labour movement.
“Together we will ensure that we have a positive and distinctive Scottish Labour message to take to the people of Scotland. I am delighted that he has agreed to take up this post.
“Now more than ever we need a Scottish parliament and Scottish government which is dedicated to tackling the public health crisis and the jobs and economic crisis which the country faces.
“I know that we will work well together in the battle to win Labour votes and Labour seats in the 135 days between now and the election.”
David Evans, general secretary of the UK Labour Party, added: “I want to congratulate Drew on his appointment as acting general secretary. Drew brings years of experience to this important role and he is widely respected throughout our movement.
“Drew knows exactly what it takes to return Labour to power in Scotland and bring an end to the years of nationalist misrule. I look forward to working with him on the planning of the Scottish parliament election.”