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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
18 February 2024
Anas Sarwar ‘felt sorry’ for Nicola Sturgeon after she resigned as first minister

Anas Sarwar ‘felt sorry’ for Nicola Sturgeon after she resigned as first minister

Anas Sarwar said he “felt sorry” for Nicola Sturgeon after she resigned as first minister.  

Speaking at Holyrood’s Editor’s Club at Scottish Labour’s annual conference in Glasgow, he said despite their differing political views he felt an “emotional connection” with the former first minister during her last moments in office. 

The Scottish Labour leader explained why he felt that way: “As high as you can be in politics, once you’ve played your part then politics moves on. There’s something great about that in our democracy and I think that’s a good thing.” 

Sarwar said he often feels that connection when senior politicians leave a high-profile role, recalling similar emotions when Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Theresa May left Number 10.  

He said the only person he didn’t feel sorry for was Boris Johnson “for obvious reasons”.  

Asked if he missed challenging Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions, Sarwar made a dig at First Minister Humza Yousaf, telling the audience “she was definitely more of a challenge than the incumbent one”.  

He said: “For all the disagreements that I have had with Nicola Sturgeon, for all the fallout that has happened since she resigned as first minister, all the criticisms I would have of her time as first minister, I honestly still on a human level, actually I do find it challenging when you see politicians that were at the peak of their power. 

“Politics can be brutal and public life can be brutal.” 

Recounting a story, he continued: “I was doing a bit of filming for the BBC, and I was walking back to the Parliament and as you do when you think someone recognises you, you say hello. 

“After she went by, I went ‘that was Nicola Sturgeon’. She was walking by herself to the train station, and I am going to be honest, I felt sorry for her.” 

Sarwar also revealed during the fringe event that his wife has cried herself to sleep over racism their family has faced as result of being in the public eye.  

He has previously spoken about the Islamophobia his father Mohammed Sarwar faced as Britain’s first Muslim MP and of how his mother used to cry herself to sleep for the prejudice they faced.  

Sarwar said: “When I think about the inequality and poverty we see in our country, where it’s on the rise, where that dream that every parent has had – I know my parents had and I have for my own children – that the generation that has followed is going to have more opportunities, it’s going to be a safer world, a more equal world. 

“I think it’s felt in the last 10 years that that’s gone in reverse and therefore I do think it's worth it because one of the things I can’t escape from – and it’s probably a political value that’s been instilled from me by my mum – is that I will honestly, when Adam’s son, I hope one day is the same age as he is now and [Adam] is the same age as me, if those kids – my one-day grandkids – think that the world has been less equal and less fairer when they’re his age I will feel as if I, and us and his generation, has absolutely failed them. 

“I don’t want that to happen.” 

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Read the most recent article written by Ruaraidh Gilmour - Scotland's circular economy: What goes around comes around.

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