I SHOULD make clear from the outset that I don’t have a preferred winner in the fight to become the next leader of Scottish Labour. Just as I haven’t in any of the six previous leadership battles the party has forced on itself since 2008. That’s a matter for them.

And while it is part of my job to examine their message to their members and, potentially, the electorate, that message has just been increasingly tired repetitions of how, after losing hundreds of thousands of supporters in recent years, they must listen more and learn from the mistakes of their complacent past – while still clinging to the dated, anti-democratic stances on Scotland’s future that lost them those supporters in the first place.

Some recent comments made by one of the candidates this time round seemed, at first glance anyway, to be a break from the standard tropes.

In an interview in this newspaper last week, Monica Lennon talked about how standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories during the Better Together campaign had been catastrophic for Scottish Labour. Most of us could have told her that already but no doubt it was a painful admission. She also restated her view that an independence referendum should take place if a majority of Scots want it – something most of her party colleagues in Glasgow still (publicly anyway) oppose.

But what really caught my eye was her comments on Glasgow’s Equal Pay issue, that shameful episode when Labour engineered, sustained and then fought to defend a system that discriminated against thousands of low-paid women over many years.

In the interview, Ms Lennon said: “In Glasgow one of the things we got wrong was the scandal of equal pay. Some bad decisions were made. It shouldn’t have happened. We shouldn’t have had a Labour authority hiding behind legal advice. I’m sorry for that. Women were failed by structural inequality and structural sexism.”

There is much I could quibble with. For starters, this is far from ancient history for Labour. Many of those who created and maintained discrimination against women over a generation remain in Labour politics. And despite taking on the role of the party’s equalities spokesperson when she was elected to Holyrood in 2016, Ms Lennon didn’t have much to say about equal pay when her colleagues were still in power in Glasgow.

But credit where it’s due. Not many in Scottish Labour have been prepared to hold their hands up to denying women millions of pounds of wages they rightfully earned. And in the interests of balance, despite being arguably the most influential individual in Glasgow Labour for a decade, her opponent Anas Sarwar has had very little – if anything – to say on the damage wrought by his foot soldiers.

But after this, Ms Lennon’s message is a repeat of what other Labour politicians have been trying to do since the SNP took on the equal pay issue – try to deflect responsibility elsewhere. Stating that taxpayers from the rest of Scotland should foot the equal pay bill, she said: “We can’t be punishing the people of Glasgow for the mistakes of the past.”

This is the same old entitled Labour, creating a monumental mess and demanding everyone else clear it up. It’s a party that again shows that it is only with the benefit of hindsight and the luxury of opposition that it’s prepared to consider doing the right thing. These were not simply “mistakes” but a deliberate strategy by Glasgow Labour – and the cost to the city was never just paying for the settlement, but all those years of lost income for the women and their households.

The equal pay debacle has only been resolved because the SNP was determined to do so. We said we would – and we did. Raising the money to pay the settlement and deliver justice for the women was never going to be easy but we have done so with minimal impact on services.

Ms Lennon is correct on one key point. This sexism and discrimination was structural. It was created by Labour in a shoddy deal with certain trade unions to secure their political backing by giving preferential terms and conditions to sections of the workforce dominated by men, who were deemed more politically valuable than their female colleagues. That cannot be allowed to ever happen again. If Ms Lennon and Scottish Labour really want to draw a line under their sorry legacy they must never again fall in behind sectional interests demanding preferential treatment when it’s politically expedient to do so. I’m not quite sure they want to.

lTHE end of Donald Trump’s presidency and the new administration in the White House could have major implications for the future of our planet. And Glasgow will be right at the heart of that.

In the past few days the US has re-entered the Paris Agreement, the cornerstone of current action to tackle the Climate Emergency. Announcing the move, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry mentioned again the importance of the UN Climate Conference, COP26, here in Glasgow in November in setting our world fairer, safer and more prosperous path. In recent days I have written to him to assure him that as host city we will do all we can to facilitate an environment where the world can come to agreement on the pressing issue of our times.

This is not yet the time for celebration. We are in a race against time. But with renewed commitment to action from one of the world’s biggest contributors to emissions comes renewed optimism across the world that COP26 can be the defining moment for our planet. And what an incredible accolade for Glasgow if we can have our name forever associated with a better future for everyone.

COP26 must be about much more than just hosting an event. It can be the launchpad for a better Glasgow – improving our neighbourhoods and open spaces, more fuel-efficient and warmer homes, better and cleaner public transport.

And it must be about jobs. Our economy is also changing and the profile that COP is clearly giving us globally even now has the potential to put us at the forefront of the new green economy. Team Glasgow will work together to ensure we grasp those opportunities. Our city has transformed in recent decades and we must do so again. COP can be the platform to change Glasgow – and our world.