Anas Sarwar: Scottish Labour ‘not afraid’ of General Election

Scottish Labour is ready for a general election, leader Anas Sarwar has said.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme on Saturday, Mr Sarwar said the party is "not afraid" of an election, and the UK Government led by Liz Truss is at "the end of the road".

His comments came as UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the UK needs a general election.

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Backing his calls, Mr Sarwar said: "I think it's clear Liz Truss is a lame duck Prime Minister. She's Prime Minister just in name. Keir Starmer is absolutely right to demand a general election. He's also right to highlight that we don't want just this Government to lose, we want to deserve to win."

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (Pic: John Devlin)Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (Pic: John Devlin)
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (Pic: John Devlin)

New polling released on October 5 by YouGov showed Scottish Labour on 31% of the vote in a general election in Scotland - an increase of nine points.

Mr Sarwar, a Glasgow regional list MSP, said improving the polls has been his "focus" since he was elected leader following Richard Leonard's departure in early 2021.

"That has been the focus that I've had since I've taken over this job 20 months ago, and Keir Starmer has had since he became leader of the UK Labour Party," Mr Sarwar said. "We both know the flaws of both the Scottish Government and the UK Government led by the SNP in Scotland, the Conservatives across the UK, so how are we going to make a positive case for why people should vote for us?

"I'm confident that if we can demonstrate to people that Labour can win the next election, Labour will win the next election. Then we can demonstrate to people how you will reform and change the UK, that means strengthen Scotland, bolster reform or renew the UK, and having governments of the people. And that can mean big gains for us across the country."

Scottish Labour lost all but one of its Westminster seats in the 2015 general election, which saw the SNP win a historic 56 seats out of 59 on offer in Scotland.

The party has struggled to regain its political dominance in Scotland since, a situation Mr Sarwar said he understood. "I'm not shy about this, I say directly to people: I can understand why people were angry with the Labour Party," he said. "I can understand why people were angry at the Conservatives. I can understand why people thought we need to get away from this horrific Tory Government.

"Actually, there's a better way for us to get rid of this horrific Tory Government. That's something that unites people across this country, because I don't believe there's a majority for a referendum next year. I don't believe there's a majority for independence.

"But there is a majority against the status quo.

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"That majority is not just in Scotland, it's right across the UK, and my job in Scotland and Keir Starmer's job across the UK is for Labour to build that campaign, to build that majority in Scotland and across the UK, to change this Tory Government and show we can do politics differently."