Anas Sarwar enters the race for leadership of Scottish Labour Party

Scottish Labour health lead Anas Sarwar has confirmed his bid to replace Kezia Dugdale as leader.

The MSP and former MP joins fellow MSP Richard Leonard as the only two candidates who have announced so far.

Today Sarwar described the contest as “an election that nobody wanted or expected” and paid tribute to the work of Dugdale.

“Labour is revitalised in Scotland and I am ready to unite our party and lead us back to power,” he added.

Dugdale resigned last week, after a little over two years in the role, saying that it is time to “pass on the baton”.

Sarwar previously served as deputy leader of the party in Scotland, between December 2011 and December 2014. He was acting leader after Johann Lamont’s resignation for the few months before Jim Murphy was elected. He backed Owen Smith in last year’s national leadership contest.

Leonard is seen as the preferred candidate of Jeremy Corbyn’s office but Sarwar is thought to have impressed the leader’s team, however, with his support of his campaigning activities in Scotland during the summer.

Sarwar’s campaign will be co-chaired by fellow Glasgow MSP Pauline McNeill and newly-elected East Lothian MP Martin Whitfield.

“The people of Scotland do not need a Labour Party that is fighting itself. They need a united Labour Party in Holyrood that is fighting the SNP and ready to form Scotland’s next government,” Sarwar said.

“And they need a united Labour Party across the UK working together to elect Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.

“I am delighted that Pauline McNeill and Martin Whitfield have agreed to co-chair my campaign and I would like to thank the many friends and colleagues who have urged me to stand. Over the coming weeks I will set out my positive vision for Scotland’s future, rooted firmly in Labour’s values.”

McNeill said: “Anas has the experience and energy to take on the challenge to transform us from being an opposition party to being the next Scottish government.

“I know he can unite our party behind our common aims and socialist values by addressing the deepening inequalities that prevail across the country. We will run a positive and constructive campaign and we will focus on the battle of ideas and issues our party needs to be at the vanguard of.”

Sarwar tweeted a campaign video:

You can read our rundown of some of the potential key players in the contest here. 

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