Scottish Labour elects Punjab governor’s son as new leader

Henrietta Strickland
February 28, 2021

I would like to congratulate Anas Sarwar on his victory and offer my commiserations to Monica Lennon.

Winning a snap leadership election ten weeks before May's Holyrood election, Mr Sarwar, MSP for Glasgow, beat his only rival candidate, Monica Lennon, by getting 57.6 percent of the vote.

Mr Sarwar concluded: "I'm determined that the Labour Party I lead will always be on your side".

Speaking to the Express on the eve of his election, Mr Sarwar told this publication: "We can not return to the old divisive politics".

"And I'll work with all our diverse communities in Scotland to rebuild the country we love".

Leonard tweeted: "Congratulations to @AnasSarwar on his victory".

"We need to invest in a "catch up" and recovery drive in our schools and hospitals so that our NHS never again has to choose between treating a virus or treating cancer".

"And we have to get Scotland back to work through massive investment in green infrastructure projects, a National Training Fund and a Business Restart Fund".

"His election is a transformational moment for the Scottish Labour Party and under his leadership Scottish Labour can once again become a strong and credible opposition with realistic, constructive ideas for the future".

The new leader also expressed his support for UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer stressing: "I respect Keir Starmer, and I will work with Keir Starmer".

'That doesn't say something about me.

"We will fight the Scottish Parliamentary elections by making the case for a socially just Scotland in a modern United Kingdom".

The newest ballot by Ipsos Mori, produced for STV final week, put Labour on 15% within the constituency vote, with the SNP on 52% and the Tories on 23%.

However, one Scottish Conservative MP said the party had picked a leader who wasn't a "well-tested figure", pointing to Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie - who impressed during questioning of Alex Salmond at Holyrood on Friday - or the Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray as people who "would be seen as more significant political figures in Scotland".

In a video message today, Mr Sarwar said: 'I want to say directly to the people of Scotland - I know Labour has a lot of work to do to win back your trust.

Mr Sarwar's father Mohammad became the Muslim MP in the United Kingdom in 1997 when he was elected to represent Glasgow Govan.

"He sounds, looks and acts like modern Scotland", said one senior Scottish Labour politician of the new leader.

After the Glasgow Central seat was won by the SNP's Alison Thewliss in the 2015 general election, Mr Sarwar turned his attention to Holyrood and was elected a list MSP for Glasgow in 2016.

As has often been the case for Scottish Labour in the last decade, the party faced a leadership election in 2017 after Kezia Dugdale quit and Mr Sarwar was pitted against Richard Leonard.

His dad, Mohammad Sarwar, was the UK's first ever Muslim MP and held the Glasgow Central seat for Labour between 1997 and 2010 - until his son Anas succeeded him.

Mr Sarwar said he would change Scottish Labour for the better by "always putting the Scottish people first and reflect their priorities".

Mr Sarwar took an active role in the pro-Union campaign leading up to the 2014 independence referendum, touring Scotland in a bus with No activists. That claims one thing nice about Scotland and its folks.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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