Below is the full text of the speech delivered by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar as the party launched its national campaign for the May elections.
Thank you Angela for that very kind introduction. It is the honour of my life to have been elected leader of the Scottish Labour Party and I am not naive about the scale of the challenge that faces us. I know we have a lot of work to do to win back the trust of the Scottish people, and I am going to work day and night to give the people of Scotland the Labour Party they deserve.
This pandemic has been so tough for so many of us. We’ve been separated from our families and our loved ones, but we’ve actually come together as a country like never before. And I don’t think it’s credible for us to come through this collective trauma and go back to the old arguments. Arguing with each other while our NHS loses out on funding. Arguing with each other while our businesses close down and children miss out on vital education.
And therefore I want people to know that the Scottish Labour Party is on their side. It’s on their side on the issues that matter to them. So I say directly to people in Scotland – and to people across the UK watching this today – I want you to know, if you are worried about your job, if and when you go back to work, we are on your side.
I want people to know, if you’re worried about your child’s education or mental health, I’m on your side. If you’re worried about a cancelled operation or failure to get a cancer diagnosis, I’m on your side. If you’re worried about the planet we’re going to leave our children and our grandchildren, I’m on your side. And if you want us to focus on rooting out the injustices and inequalities that exist in our society, I’m on your side.
And I promise you that the Labour Party I lead will always be on your side. So let’s get right behind this campaign, let’s elect as many Labour MSPs, Labour councillors, Labour mayors, Labour AMs across this country as we can. Because it’s only Labour winning – winning representation, fighting for the issues that matter to – that can transform people’s lives across this country. Let’s not go back to those old arguments, let’s instead focus on what unites us as a country, not what divides us.