Scottish Labour MSP Anas Sarwar has announced the throwing of his hat into the leadership race today in a piece personally penned in The Observer, outlining his desire to “rebuild Scottish Labour, then rebuild Scotland.”
The son of former Glasgow Labour MP Mohammad Sarwar and an early frontrunner says his task is to “rebuild” Labour north of the border after recent electoral humiliations. It finished fifth in the 2019 European elections and fourth in the general election later that year in terms of the number of seats won.
Sarwar calls for an end to the in-fighting demonstrably ever present within Labour as centre leftists and radical leftists attempt to compromise.
“Over the past few years, I have gained a new perspective on our politics and realised that the things we argue about mean little to people’s lives. We spend too much time highlighting our differences, rather than focusing on what unites us.”
The MSP had previously ran against recently resigned Richard Leonard in Scottish Labour’s 2017 battle and was bookies favourite to beat Leonard then, perceived publicly as a positive departure from Corbyn’s leadership and style – which unfortunately proved unpopular with crucial voters – unlike Leonard with strong ties to the socialist wings of the Labour Party, and a former trade unionist.
Wings of the Labour Party have been systematically pushing back and diluting Corbynist/socialist/strong leftist elements of the Party, after an unfortunately poor electoral return on paper for Corbyn as Labour leader running with those policies.
It was surprising then in 2017 when Leonard beat Sarwar, given Labour’s in-fighting directionally signalling a preference for a more centre left leader as the public face.
Now Sarwar has returned for Act 2 with a strong likelihood of his success given his position as favourite in a previous race, his previously held position as depute leader, and his public visibility in a crucial time for Scottish Labour where delivering a message to the public from an at least semi-familiar face is crucial to show strength in a still-weakened Labour Party.
Sarwar went on to discuss crucial issues facing the nation, and stated that life fundamentally cannot return to the status quo in an eventual post-COVID scenario.
“I firmly believe we cannot go back to society as it was before the pandemic – insecure work, hollowed-out public services, an underfunded health service, and the constant focus on another independence referendum when there’s far more important things we need to be dealing with.”
He adds: “Scottish Labour can compete again if we offer a positive alternative – a plan to heal our wounds, to reunite our people and to rebuild our country.”
Leonard’s resignation on Thursday has thrown Labour into chaos just months before the crucial Scottish elections – which the SNP hope will demonstrate increased support for independence – are due to take place.
Sarwar touched on the racism he has spoken up against in the past, and the racism he and his family have personally been targeted with.
He said: “Speaking out against the racism I’ve faced was the hardest thing I’ve done in politics. My family faced death threats as a result.
“But I’ve used that experience to spend my time in our communities working on what unites us and bringing people together – I have listened and I have learnt.
“I want to bring that same approach to our Labour movement so that we can rebuild our party and rebuild our country.”
The last leadership bid took just over two months to resolve; with an election in May, the clock is ticking rapidly for Scottish Labour, it couldn’t come at frankly a worse time.
Candidates have until midnight next Sunday to declare any intention to run, and it will be necessary for them to have the support of at least four other party MSP’s or it’s singular Scottish MP by 12PM the following Tuesday to be nominated as a successful candidate.
Featured image credit: heraldscotland.com