Sar­war sets out stall as Scot­tish Labour leader con­test be­gins

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Sev­erin Car­rell Scot­land ed­i­tor

Anas Sar­war has launched his cam­paign to be Scot­tish Labour leader at an event in Ni­cola Stur­geon’s con­stituency in Glas­gow, where he ac­cused the first min­is­ter of pre­sid­ing over un­ac­cept­able poverty.

Sar­war, the can­di­date with the largest sup­port from Labour MPs and MSPs, sug­gested he was the best-placed of the two can­di­dates to de­feat Stur­geon and her Scot­tish Na­tional party, and the best able to ap­peal to vot­ers.

Hint­ing that sup­port­ers of his left­wing ri­val Richard Leonard were more con­cerned with trib­al­ism than gov­ern­ment, Sar­war also re­ferred to the bit­ter dis­putes over Jeremy Cor­byn’s lead­er­ship of UK Labour. He said the con­test was a choice be­tween be­ing a party of power or of protest.

“I don’t want to be a Scot­tish Labour leader who just talks about fight­ing in­equal­ity, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­nity, end­ing aus­ter­ity and build­ing a fairer so­ci­ety,” Sar­war told the cam­paign launch yes­ter­day. “I want to de­liver that equality, op­por­tu­nity and fair­ness as the next first min­is­ter of Scot­land.

“That is why here in the Gor­bals, at the start of this cam­paign, we are park­ing our tanks on Ni­cola Stur­geon’s lawn. This cam­paign is not just about elect­ing a Labour leader, it’s about elect­ing the next Labour first min­is­ter.”

The con­test was trig­gered by the shock res­ig­na­tion last month of Kezia Dug­dale as Scot­tish Labour leader.

The cam­paigns have been given un­til 9 Oc­to­ber to re­cruit new mem­bers at the full price of £48 or as reg­is­tered and af­fil­i­ated sup­port­ers, who will be al­lowed to vote for a £12 fee. The re­sult will be de­clared on 18 Novem­ber.

Although Scot­tish Labour has avoided the open con­flict be­tween cen­trists and left­wingers that has racked the Labour party, the con­test is coloured by fac­tional dis­putes be­tween the back­ers of the ri­val con­tenders.

Leonard, a for­mer po­lit­i­cal of­fi­cer with the GMB trade union who is widely re­spected in­side the party but lit­tle known, is backed by the pro-Cor­byn Cam­paign for So­cial­ism, and is ex­pected to win sup­port from the largest trade unions. Cor­byn is not ex­pected to for­mally back ei­ther can­di­date.

Rel­a­tively in­ex­pe­ri­enced in front­line pol­i­tics, Leonard’s cam­paign is be­ing launched to­day in Glas­gow, where he is ex­pected to call for greater public own­er­ship of key in­dus­tries, and greater public spend­ing on hous­ing, in­fra­struc­ture and in­dus­trial in­vest­ment. Sar­war, who last month hosted a large rally for Cor­byn at Glas­gow cen­tral mosque, is the son of Mo­hammed Sar­war, who be­came the UK’s first Mus­lim MP in 1997.

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