Covid recovery: Nicola Sturgeon must grasp the thistle and work with Scottish Labour to save people's jobs – Anas Sarwar MSP

This pandemic has changed the world and has sent shockwaves through our society and our economy.

The planned closure of the McVitie's factory in Glasgow, with nearly 500 people's livelihoods at risk, is just one reason why jobs must be the Scottish government priority (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)
The planned closure of the McVitie's factory in Glasgow, with nearly 500 people's livelihoods at risk, is just one reason why jobs must be the Scottish government priority (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Ten thousand of our fellow citizens have lost their lives and many thousands more have suffered illness or bereavement in their families.

As the vaccination programme continues to gather pace, we can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. We can see an end in sight to the collective national trauma caused by the pandemic and for that we must all be grateful of the sacrifices made by our key workers and the miracles worked by our scientists.

Make no mistake, the pandemic has been the greatest threat that this country has faced since the Second World War.

The number of excess deaths that the UK has suffered has not been seen since the midst of that war and every person in the UK has been part of a collective national effort to fight the pandemic.

But the pandemic is not only a public health crisis – it is a crisis of the economy as well.

We have taken an economic hit deeper and sharper than the financial crisis of 2008. In Scotland over 300,000 people are stuck on furlough without knowing if they have a job to go back to.

Businesses have been devastated, family finances have been torn to shreds and our struggling high streets are now on their knees.

Scotland is now deep in the midst of a jobs crisis, and for the future of our country and the welfare of its people the stakes could not be higher.

Read More

Read More
Scottish Election 2021: Nicola Sturgeon vows to work with Anas Sarwar’s Scottish...

After the trauma and devastation of the First World War, David Lloyd George sought to build a land fit for heroes. After the Second World War, the Attlee government built the welfare state and the NHS on which we have all relied over the course of the pandemic.

The scale of the threat to our economy and society may be daunting, but we once again have the opportunity to reshape our economy so that we can build a brighter and more prosperous future for the people of Scotland.

That’s why Scottish Labour put a £1-billion jobs recovery plan, to provide jobs or training to every young or unemployed Scot, at the beating heart of our manifesto. And the need for that plan could not be greater.

On Saturday, a protest was held in Tollcross Park in response to the planned redundancies at the McVitie’s factory in the East End of Glasgow.

The McVitie’s factory has provided employment for Glaswegians for almost 100 years. With nearly 500 jobs now at risk, the time for action has come.

Despite the workforce being rightly labelled as ‘key workers’ throughout the pandemic, they were not informed of the redundancies until after the media had been briefed – that is scandalous.

We simply cannot let these vital jobs and this important part of our industrial base go to the wall. The devastation that so many redundancies would cause to the local economy must be avoided.

That's why Scottish Labour stands resolutely alongside the workforce and the GMB in this fight for jobs. It’s time for the owners, Pladis, to think again and the Scottish government must be prepared to step up to the challenge and intervene meaningfully to save jobs.

What is happening right now in the East End of Glasgow is a forerunner of the economic strife that the pandemic will wreak upon Scotland. That’s why Scottish Labour’s priorities are clear – jobs, jobs, jobs.

This week, the First Minister addressed parliament to outline the priorities of her government over the next parliamentary term.

With 300,000 people still stuck on furlough, the priority must be a proper jobs recovery plan and a stimulation package to support jobs and businesses.

This is not a time for constitutional brinkmanship or confected arguments between Holyrood and Westminster. It would be unforgivable to return to the arguments of the past when an uncertain future is hurtling down the tracks towards us.

Right now we need a First Minister for everyone in Scotland. Not a campaigner leading a movement for half the country; but a First Minister who will lead a national recovery for everyone.

In the final TV debate, the First Minister made that promise. Scottish Labour will hold her to that promise.

The national recovery can't just be a slogan; it must be our Parliament’s collective national mission on behalf of the people we are all elected to represent.

Scottish Labour stands ready and willing to work with the Scottish government to secure our economic recovery. But we will push them to be bolder, to meet the crisis head on, and to deliver a jobs recovery plan that matches the ambitions of the people of Scotland.

Labour’s £1 billion jobs recovery plan is the most ambitious economic programme ever put before the Scottish Parliament. We are ambitious for the people of Scotland and we know that just like 1945 and 2008, only such an ambitious plan will kick-start our recovery.

That’s why we are willing to work with the Scottish government and I call on Nicola Sturgeon to grasp the thistle and work with Labour in the national interest.

The people sitting at home on furlough worried if they can pay their bills or afford their childcare costs deserve a parliament that is united in its resolve to protect their economic well-being.

Labour makes no apologies for our ambition – our ambition for the people of Scotland knows no limits.

So let's come together in the national interest, focus on what unites us not what divides us, and strive together to build a fairer, better and more prosperous Scotland.

It is the least that the people of Scotland deserve.

Anas Sarwar is Scottish Labour leader and an MSP for Glasgow

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.