Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Saturday, 13 September 2008 13:48 UK

In full: Gray's acceptance speech

Iain Gray has won the race to be the leader of the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament.

Here is his acceptance speech in full.

I want to begin by thanking the Scottish Labour staff for organising this election so efficiently, and to thank Cathy and Andy for the way in which the election campaign has been fought.

I firmly believe that the best leadership is collective leadership and you have demonstrated over six weeks and 15 hustings why you should and will be a big part of that.

I offer my wholehearted congratulations to Johann Lamont on her election as deputy leader and look forward to working with them in moving Labour forward in Scotland.

Thank you above all to the members of this movement who have engaged with the election campaign in greater number and with greater enthusiasm than I thank any of us could have foreseen. Thank you for the trust you have placed in me.

This election is the beginning of a new conviction in Scottish Labour - united around our shared values and moving forward with common purpose.

Thousands have not only voted, but taken part in hustings and other events during the elections. Some have said that it is the first time in a long time they have had the chance to look the party leadership in the eye and tell them what they think. I promise them it will not be the last.

I am heartened by the determination of those party members. We know that this is a difficult time for Labour.

It is sometimes said that Labour has governed Scotland for 50 years. Well I joined the party in a council scheme in a city, Edinburgh, which had been ruled by the Tories for centuries. It did not feel like Labour was in charge.

Fresh start

We won that council and we won that country. We did it by uniting around our core values. We did it by standing shoulder to shoulder, MPs, councillors, trade unionist, party members. We did it by addressing the things that really mattered to the people we sought to serve, and telling them what we wanted to do with conviction in language which made sense to them.

It is time to do that again.

The cost of living, health services, housing, education, the care of our elderly and disabled, the eradication of poverty, the quality of our local services. That will be our focus.

Labour is best when we look outwards and align our values with the people's aspirations. Not just listening but hearing.

It is time to do that again.

I promised a fresh start. It is time to close the manifesto on which we fought the 2007 election, and begin to write our programme for 2011 and beyond.

I will appoint a senior colleague of my shadow cabinet to drive policy development. To work with the policy forum process. To engage early and directly with affiliated trade unions, and with young Labour and Labour students.

They will be charged with reaching out beyond the Labour party to develop policy in line with our values but in partnership with wider Scotland.

This will include building on initiatives like our literacy commission, and the wide coalition of support we already have for the right to an apprenticeship for every qualified school leaver.

I am Scottish and my story is a Scottish story

It will also mean defining exactly how we should reform the council tax to make it fairer, while protecting local services.

I have been asked, how we respond to the loss of Glasgow East. This is what we do. We embrace the message of that defeat into the heart of our campaign in the forthcoming general election and we write it into every line of our programme for winning in 2011.

It will be a programme developed in Scotland, carrying the endorsement of Scottish Conference and the conviction of every party member. It will be a programme which speaks to the concerns and aspirations of Scots.

I want Scottish Labour to be Scotland's Labour Party again.

We should be proud of what Labour has achieved. But we must be passionate about what we can do now.

Proud of free bus travel for pensioners. But ready now to take steps to give communities the bus services they need.

Proud of our action on anti-social behaviour, but ready now to press for jail sentences for those who carry a knife on our streets

Proud of 35,000 apprenticeship places. But ready now to create a guaranteed place for every qualified school leaver.

Proud of the Scottish Parliament we delivered. But ready now to develop its powers in the light of the Calman Commission.

Simple statement

Our devolved parliament is a powerful instrument for progress, and a powerful devolved parliament is what the people of Scotland want. The Calman Commission is the outstanding achievement of Wendy Alexander's leadership of this party and we will finish its work.

Another commission reported last week. Half a million pounds of public money spent on a broadcasting commission. Which concluded that the future of Scottish broadcasting depended on it being part of the UK broadcasting market.

Just as Scottish banks benefit form being part of a market of 60 million not 5 million.

Just as Scottish energy companies benefit from being part of a UK-wide grid linked into European markets.

Just as our shipyards benefit form access to multi-billion pound MoD contracts for aircraft carriers.

Scotland's future lies in using our parliament to leverage those opportunities by raising the education, skills and aspiration of our people. There is no limit to the untapped potential of our people, and no limit to our ambition neither nor anything else which divides us.

I started this campaign with a simple statement. I am as Scottish as Alex Salmond.

But our story is different.

While Alex Salmond was studying the dismal science - economics - in the academic birthplace of Thatcherism, I was studying natural science in the academic home of the enlightenment.

To be given the chance to serve this movement as leader of Labour in that Scottish Parliament is a precious privilege

While Alex Salmond was an official in the Scottish office, I was learning to be a teacher in a tough school and a community activist in the biggest council house scheme in Edinburgh.

While he moved to the Royal Bank of Scotland I moved to Mozambique where I taught for two years in a country literally fighting for its life.

While he spent the eighties and nineties developing the tricks of politics in Westminster, I spent them developing my values working fro Oxfam.

In 2001 when he abandoned the Scottish Parliament I served it as minister for social justice and enterprise, transport and lifelong learning, delivering 1bn of housing investment to this city and seeing more Scots enter higher education than ever before.

We don't need a first minister whose pride is putting people down. Scotland needs a first minister whose passion is lifting people up.

I am Scottish and my story is a Scottish story. But I am also Labour and my story is a Labour story.

Woodrow Wilson said "absolute identity with one's cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership".

I was born in the NHS labour created, a child of the health services first decade.

I was the first in my family to be able to go to a university, opened up to the likes of me by a Labour government.

I was a teacher in schools Labour had made comprehensive and open.

For 12 years I campaigned for debt relief, a landmine ban and increased aid - issues Labour brought to the global stage.

I was a founder member of the Scottish Parliament Labour created and my name is on the first legislation it ever passed.

To be given the chance to serve this movement as leader of Labour in that Scottish Parliament is a precious privilege.

But the real prize we seek together is the opportunity to serve Scotland and make it all that it can be for every one of its citizens.

Thank you.


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