Sarwar has eyes on first minister job
Politics: MSP takes aim at Sturgeon
MSP Anas Sarwar has launched his Scottish Labour leadership campaign with a pledge to deliver “equality, opportunity and fairness” in power.
He spoke of his ambition to become Scotland’s next first minister during the event held in Nicola Sturgeon’s Glasgow Southside constituency.
The Glasgow politician said he would pursue policies to “rescue the NHS”, end the gender pay gap and lift children out of poverty by topping up child benefit, as he outlined his leadership pitch.
“Despite being a Glasgow MSP, despite representing one of the poorest communities in our country, Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP has presided over £400million of cuts to this city,” he said.
“Half of the children in this constituency are deprived. That is a national disgrace. And yet Nicola Sturgeon refuses to use the powers we have to help them.
“Our plans to top up child benefit would be worth millions of pounds to families in this city, but she fails to act.
“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.”
He added: “I don’t want to be a Scottish Labour who just talks about fighting inequality, creating opportunity and building a fairer society.
“I want to deliver that equality, opportunity and fairness as the next first minister of Scotland.”
Mr Sarwar also told Labour supporters they could choose “to continue to divide, or to bring our party and our country together”. A Scottish Labour MEP has called for the groundwork to be laid for a possible coalition between the party and the SNP at Holyrood.
David Martin said while the prospect may seem “unthinkable” to many, signs of increasing co-operation between the two parties had been growing.
He said: “There are signals, very weak signals, the real hate – and it was hate – between Labour and the SNP is beginning to weaken.
“I would not quite say there is a rapprochement but there is more possibility of co-operation and working together than in a long time.”
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “We do not support a deal, pact or coalition with the SNP.”