Punjab governor’s son elected Scottish Labour Party leader
Anas Sarwar, son of Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar and a Labour member of Scottish Parliament for Glasgow, was elected on Saturday to succeed Richard Leonard as the new leader of Scottish Labour Party, after winning 57.56 percent of the vote.
Anas Sarwar secured 61.21 percent of party member votes and 49.31 percent votes cast by affiliate supporters, while rival Monica Lennon received 38.75 percent of member votes and 50.64 percent of affiliate votes.
Anas Sarwar has been announced as the new Scottish Labour leader.
The contest was triggered after Richard Leonard resigned as leader, saying it was in the best interest of the party for him to stand down.
Mr Sarwar takes charge of the party ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections, which is scheduled to be held on 6 May.
Sarwar unsuccessfully ran for the leadership in 2017, when he was beaten by Leonard. But in the latest contest, the MSP secured the most nominations from councillors, parliamentary colleagues and local parties.
Although he differs from Leonard and Lennon politically, describing himself as a Brownite, Sarwar told LabourList in an interview during the election that he wants “to keep the radicalism of the previous leadership”.
“I actually think our tax policies will be even more progressive and radical than even John McDonnell’s or Jeremy Corbyn’s tax policies or manifesto,” he said. “Because we have specific challenges in Scotland. “I want us to commit hundreds of millions of pounds to tackle child poverty in Scotland, but you have to pay for it. And I think it’s only fair that we pay for it by asking those at the top to pay a bit more.”
Sarwar and Lennon disagreed over how Labour should position itself on a fresh Scottish independence referendum, with the victor believing that the party should be firmly against another vote so soon after Covid.
Lennon is opposed to independence but nonetheless argued: “If people in Scotland want a referendum – should they be able to have one? Yes, they should. It shouldn’t be a matter for Boris Johnson to decide.”
Sarwar told LabourList that the party could appeal as “the grown-ups in the room” by taking his preferred stance on independence, and revealed that he would focus on the NHS as Labour leader in Scotland.
In a LabourList comment piece setting out his stall, Sarwar pledged to use the next five years to “rebuild our party” and “urgently improve our party machine” in order to “take the fight to the SNP and the Tories”.
His five-point plan promised to run a “dedicated, well-resourced digital directorate in Scottish HQ”, provide training for Labour activists, offer rapid rebuttal and “make better use” of expertise within the party.