Anas Sarwar: Labour offers change for Scotland without independence

Scottish Labour leader tells Scotland Tonight that 'good government and competence' offers an alternative destination.

Anas Sarwar says a UK Labour government will offer change for Scotland without the need for a second independence referendum.

Speaking to Scotland Tonight, the Scottish Labour leader said he didn’t support independence or a referendum, adding the party needs to “demonstrate through good government and competence” that it can serve the interests of people in Scotland.

He said: “I’m making a different appeal.

“If you look at what Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond did in the run-up to 2007, they didn’t somehow change their position on the constitution, they recognised that the vast majority of people in the country didn’t support their constitutional position.

“But they said directly to people, ‘you may disagree with us on the ultimate constitutional destination but let us through good government and competence try and persuade you’.

“They have failed in that regard, with every institution now being weaker after 17 years of an SNP government. So I am saying directly to people – I don’t support independence, I don’t support a referendum but my goodness do I recognise why you want to run a million miles away from this rotten Tory government.

“We have to demonstrate through good government that we can make the UK Government work in the interests of people here in Scotland and I think people will want to give an incoming UK Labour government that chance to deliver that change.

“We may ultimately disagree on the final destination for Scotland but on this part of the journey we all agree (that) we need change, so let’s work together, deliver that change and allow us to demonstrate that we can have a government here across the UK – and here in Scotland – that can work in the interests of everyone across our country and, therefore, demonstrate that politics can work, rather than having to go down that route suggested by the SNP.”

Sarwar was also pressured over a series of polices that UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has stepped back from – including the party’s £38bn green prosperity pledge, a cap on bankers’ bonuses and the nationalisation of key industries.

Sarwar said: “I would much rather we went into an election campaign being straight about what we’re promising and only promising what we can deliver, rather than making big promises that when it hits the cold light of reality we are then rowing back from.

“I would much rather we take that pain now in opposition, rather than use that promise to get someone’s support and then row back from that promise.

“I think that would break down the trust that we’ve seen break – not just because of the Tories across the UK – but also because of the SNP in Scotland.

“We’ve also got to be clear about the reality we find ourselves in. When we made that commitment over two years ago around the green prosperity plan and that figure that has been quoted, international borrowing rates were at around 0.1%, 0.2% in terms of interest rates, they’re now over 4%.

“We have had the Tories crash our economy, we’ve had the Liz Truss mini-budget that has seen mortgages skyrocket.

“I think everyone in Scotland can see there is a world of difference between a Labour government and a Tory government.

“Anyone that thinks we can do with another five years of the politics of Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman, Priti Patel – if people honestly think that a Labour party is the same as that politics of those politicians then I would challenge them.”

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