Anas Sarwar has declared that a “national recovery plan” for Scotland will be the centrepiece of the Scottish Labour election campaign and urged the electorate to vote for a “Covid recovery parliament” in May.
Delivering his first major speech as Scottish Labour leader this morning, he announced five themes to the election campaign: “a jobs recovery; an NHS recovery; an education recovery; a climate recovery; and a communities recovery”.
Sarwar told voters that they cannot rely on either the Conservatives or the SNP to prioritise the devolved nation’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and argued “that’s why voting Labour matters”.
“We can’t rely on Boris Johnson’s Tories to deliver a recovery that works for everyone. They are happy to return to the failed economic model pre-Covid,” the Scottish Labour leader told those watching.
“We can’t rely on the SNP to prioritise recovery because they’ve already made clear that they will prioritise a referendum this year. It’s only by voting for us that you can guarantee that we have a parliament focused on recovery.”
Sarwar outlined a plan to “deliver hope for our young people, restores Scottish education, supports teachers, and makes sure that every child has the right to a decent start in life” this morning, setting out his education comeback plan.
The proposals include a summer programmes with resources for national youth, arts and outdoors organisations, school trips to outdoor activity centres and free access to sport, transport, outdoor activities and culture.
The Scottish Labour leader, who was newly elected to the role last month, has repeatedly argued that a fresh independence referendum is not credible as the country rebuilds after the damaging coronavirus crisis.
“An argument about a referendum right now won’t take one more person back to work,” he said today. “It won’t lift a single family out of poverty; it won’t restart our NHS; and it would undermine the effort – a national effort – to recover from the pandemic.
“I am going to be a leader who focuses on what unites us as a country, not what divides us. Prioritising the national recovery should be what unites us all.
“So I say to all my fellow Scots, whether you were yes or no, or Leave or Remain, if you believe we should work together on the things we care about right now, then Scottish Labour is with you in this election.”
Voters will go to the polls in Scotland on May 6th to elect members of the Scottish parliament in Holyrood. The newly elected Labour leader has decided to run against Nicola Sturgeon in her Glasgow Southside constituency.
The Scottish First Minister and SNP MSP won the seat with a clear majority at the last Holyrood election in 2016, securing almost 10,000 more votes than the Labour candidate Fariha Thomas.
“It may well be her constituency, but it’s my home. I was brought up on the south side of Glasgow, I live here,” said Sarwar. “I’m not doing this because I think it’s brave, I’m doing it because I believe in it.”