The National:

AS a Unionist, Richard Leonard is perhaps inclined to err on the side of pessimism when it comes to Scotland’s ability to stand out on the world stage.

He may look at Scotland’s men’s national football team, who have never advanced beyond the first round of the World Cup.

Leonard was hoping to go one better after Strathclyde University Labour Club organised the “World Cup” for party’s best and brightest, with politicians pitted against each other in one-on-one knockout Twitter polls for the first round.

Those who received the most votes would advance to the next round while the losers are eliminated.

Leonard was pitted against Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP, Ged Killen.

The Scottish Labour leader was not in the best of form heading into the tournament – a recent Panelbase poll, published by Wings Over Scotland, showed that more than a third of Scottish Labour voters didn’t even know he was the party leader.

READ MORE: Even Scottish Labour voters don't know who Richard Leonard is

But surely Leonard, like Scotland manager Ally MacLeod when drawn against Peru in 1978, must have fancied his chances of victory.

MacLeod’s men, as it turned out, were in for a shock. So was Leonard.

With a whopping 70% of the 354 votes cast, Ged Killen cantered home to victory – condemning the Labour leader to first-round exit.

At least the branch office manager can now focus on something he’s more accustomed to – cheering on from the sidelines.