Anas Sarwar urges SNP voters to return to Labor to kick out Boris Johnson

In his first speech at conference, the Scottish Labor leader appealed to voters who have deserted his party over the last 15 years to return to kick Boris Johnson out of Downing Street.

He also set out his vision for a refreshed and rebranded Scottish Labour, including a move towards more pro-business economic policy.

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During the hour-long speech, Mr Sarwar also announced pledges to implement ‘Milly’s Law’, which would give more rights to families of victims of scandals such as Hillsborough, and launched the party’s £1.3bn promise to provide free residential care to all over -65s in Scotland.

Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar speaking during the Scottish Labor conference at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

It also came alongside a rebrand of Scottish Labour’s logo and branding, switching from a red rose to a thistle, and ditching the solid red background for a red and purple gradient.

He spoke of a “culture of defeatism” within the party, adding that “winning matters” and “we are not a debating society”.

Mr Sarwar said the change of logo would not “change the way a single person votes”, but added: “But changing our mindset and changing a culture of our party does.

“It’s not enough that the Tories deserve to lose, it’s not enough that the SNP deserve to lose.

“We have to prove to the people of Scotland that we deserve to win.”

In a renewed pitch to the business community of Scotland, he also criticized the historical lack of focus from Labor and Holyrood on economics.

He said: “For too long we have had an economics-free debate in Scotland.

“We must change the culture of our economy, drive innovation and renewal, and help create and new generation of entrepreneurs.

“Let me state this loud and clear, under my leadership, Scottish Labor will be an unashamedly pro-business, pro-growth and pro-jobs party.”

Mr Sarwar also used the speech to attack the SNP for accusing critics of “talking Scotland down” and said the country’s politics is “broken” and must be rejected.

He said: “Now there are some who will tell us that we are talking Scotland down if we challenge these failings in our health system or expose our broken politics.

“They couldn’t be more wrong. Only a party that thinks our nation can’t be better, and our people don’t deserve better, would say that.”

The Scottish Labor leader continued: “We need to stop doing politics the way our opponents do it – pitting Scot against Scot, Yes against No, Remain against Leave, Holyrood against Westminster

“An obsession with the politics of the past, with no real answers for the future. That approach is out of touch, and they are out of ideas.

“The best hope, the only hope, of building the future Scotland deserves is Scotland’s Labor Party.”

In a bid aimed at SNP voters keen to see the end of the Prime Minister and to Conservative unionists worried about Boris Johnson’s impact on the union, Mr Sarwar said Labor offer the only route to a change of Prime Minister.

Labeling the Conservative leader a “lying charlatan” he added that “Scotland deserves better”, echoing language from the 2021 Holyrood election campaign.

In a pitch to unionists in Scotland, he also claimed the Conservatives were a “gift” to the SNP, adding “they are the biggest threat to the future of the United Kingdom.”

Urging voters to back Labor at the council elections to send a message to Boris Johnson, Sarwar continued: “I say directly to people who may have held their nose and voted Tory because you thought it was the best way to preserve the UK.

“Boris Johnson has let you down, he has let the United Kingdom down.”

Want to hear more from The Scotsman’s politics team? Check out the latest episode of our political podcast, The Steamie.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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