Anas Sarwar again tells Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross to “grow up”

Sienna Rodgers
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Boris Johnson’s commission on race and ethnic disparities has found that, when it comes to institutional racism, there is nothing to see here in the UK. It is actually “a model for other white-majority countries”, they have concluded, and “the well-meaning idealism of many young people who claim the country is still institutionally racist is not borne out by the evidence”. Maurice Mcleod, chief executive of Race on the Agenda and a Labour councillor, has described the inquiry’s conclusions as “government-level gaslighting”. Many have compared it to the review we saw yesterday by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services that found Met police officers were “calm and professional” at the Sarah Everard vigil.

The full race commission report has not been released, however: the government chose to send a select group of journalists a summary under a strict ‘no approach’ embargo, and only make the whole document available to the public at 11.30am today. This ensures that the story’s first outing is tightly controlled, as explained by The Guardian’s Peter Walker. On the subject of transparency and scrutiny, it is also noteworthy that Nadine White, the only race correspondent in the UK, says she has been asking for updates for months about the report yet was not sent the details yesterday.

Channel 4 News aired disappointing news for Labour last night. The latest J.L. Partners polling shows the Conservatives have made a comeback since November in so-called “Red Wall” seats, where the opposition party ranks highly on the “divided” metric and too low on “competent and capable”. Pollster James Johnson concludes that Keir Starmer was once a net positive for the party but is now increasingly a negative. Sources close to the leadership responded by emphasising the vaccine bounce boosting the Tories and noting that Starmer still compares well to his predecessors in personal ratings.

More positive news for Labour was offered by Anas Sarwar in the Scottish leaders’ debate. The new head of Scottish Labour battled through BBC technical difficulties to deliver an assured performance, making clear the party’s priorities rather than simply bashing independence as Tory leader Douglas Ross did. “If she obsessed about fighting poverty as much as she did about the constitution, imagine how different Scotland could be,” Sarwar told Nicola Sturgeon, highlighting that one in four children in Scotland live in poverty, rising to almost 50% in her own constituency.

Both Sarwar and Ross are adamant that Sturgeon is wrong to propose another Scottish independence referendum in the first half of the parliamentary term as the country recovers from the pandemic. The Tory leader was vague on what she should be focusing on instead, however. “Dear oh dear Douglas,” Sarwar said, accusing Ross of providing a “childish opposition” that only wants to talk about divisions in the country. He told the Conservative again to “grow up”. The Scottish Labour leader even got Sturgeon to say it was “unacceptable” that a Scottish cancer patient was forced to travel south of the border for treatment.

Today’s email will be the last until after the Easter bank holidays as we will be returning with a new mailing system. You don’t need to do anything: it should arrive in your inboxes as normal, but will look a little different and our morning briefing will hopefully go into spam folders a lot less. Don’t stop checking for the latest Labour news and comment in the meantime, and have a great weekend.

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