The Scottish people deserve a parliament that is not obsessed with SNP “psychodrama” and blames Westminster for all its failures, Anas Sarwar has said.
The Scottish Labour leader said the “really fundamental fault line” of the upcoming Holyrood election is the SNP and Scottish Conservatives attempting to divide the country over independence and Boris Johnson’s Government.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Sarwar referenced Nicola Sturgeon’s feud with her predecessor and Alba leader Alex Salmond, warning the next five years of the Scottish Parliament could be about “settling scores” and “SNP psychodrama”.
Bemoaning the “political bubble” being obsessed with the prospect of another Scottish independence referendum, Sarwar argued the Scottish public actually wanted politicians’ focus to be on recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “We’re voting for our parliament, so what people are voting for is what they want the priorities to be for the next five years of our parliament.
“The case I’m making is: let’s focus on the next five years, on coming through this most difficult year of our collective lifetime, this collective trauma of Covid and not go back.
“Let’s instead go forward and let’s focus on the economic recovery, focus on getting our kids back to school and their mental health, focus on all the cancer catch-up we need, and the mental health catch-up that we need, focus on making sure people have work and jobs to go back to after this crisis.”
Asked whether an SNP majority would be a mandate for another referendum, Sarwar replied: “I’ve got 11 days to try and persuade people across Scotland that we can choose something different.
“We can choose to not have the next five years being about a Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson fight.
“It doesn’t have to be about the constitution, it can be about you, your family, and our national recovery.”
He added: “Both the SNP and the Tories play up on each other’s division.
“We have had 14 years of an SNP government, Nicola Sturgeon has been First Minister for seven years, and there has been failure after failure.
“But every time there’s a failure, what they do is say: ‘it wouldn’t have happened if we had independence’.
“Or, worse yet, they point at the Tories and say: ‘at least we’re not as bad as that lot’.
“Frankly, I think Scotland deserves better than that, it needs a better government and we need better opposition.”
Speaking earlier on Sky News, Sarwar insisted he is “absolutely tough enough” to take on Nicola Sturgeon.
He said: “Absolutely I can take her on and I’m standing directly in her own constituency as a demonstration of that.
“I don’t want to take her on in the way that previous politicians want to take people on which is shouting, getting angry, I think our politics deserves better than that.”