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Socialists urge new Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to stay ‘loyal’ to policy agenda

by Niall Christie

Scotland editor

SOCIALISTS have urged new Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to remain loyal to the party’s radical policy agenda after his election this weekend. 

The Glasgow MSP defeated the party’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon in the ballot and becomes the first person from an Asian background to lead a mainstream British political party. 

Mr Sarwar replaces Richard Leonard, who stood down in January, promising to “work day and night” to “build the country we all need” with just 10 weeks to go until May’s Holyrood elections.  

The new leader said that his vision for the next parliament would focus on tackling the economic, health and societal impacts of the pandemic.

Mr Sarwar won the leadership race with just under 58 per cent of the aggregate votes. He was backed by 61 per cent of party members, but lost out among affiliates, with his opponent winning just over 50 per cent of their votes. 

Ms Lennon congratulated her opponent, writing on social media: “Proud to have been part of this positive leadership debate. Huge thanks to my volunteer team, Scottish Labour Party staff and the members and affiliates who participated. 

“Let’s get out there as a united team.”

Groups within the labour movement warned that socialism must remain the goal for the party ahead of the election, with concerns over the party’s position on the constitution.

Red Paper Collective editor and Labour peer Pauline Bryan said: “We congratulate Anas on becoming Scottish Labour leader and wish him well in his task of trying to improve Scottish Labour’s standing.

“This considerable task will require a determination to push a transformative economic agenda. 

“We would caution him, though, that a rigid attitude to the constitution will not help Scottish Labour. 

“Worse still, dismissing its importance as an issue will make winning back former voters, or attracting support from the increasing numbers of those who have only ever supported the SNP, more difficult.”

The Campaign for Socialism said: “The Scottish Labour Party already has sound socialist policies from the last Scottish party conference and the Scottish Policy Forum. 

“These policies must remain at the heart of our manifesto for the coming election. 

“We need to show voters we reject the austerity policies and rigid constitutional offerings of the SNP and Tories with a radical platform for transformative change.”

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