Scottish Labour to put Anas Sarwar's name on all ballot papers
Scottish Labour has applied to the Electoral Commission to have Anas Sarwar’s name on the regional ballot papers for the election.
While the SNP and the Tories have both previously used their leader’s names in the space for the party description, it’s the first time Labour have done so.
The party has registered: Anas Sarwar - unite and rebuild Scotland, Anas Sarwar - Get Scotland Back Better, and Anas Sarwar - Labour’s National Recovery Plan.
Speaking to journalists on the first day of campaigning, Sarwar said it was about expressing confidence in his leadership.
He said: “I know Nicola Sturgeon's put her name on the ballot paper, I know in previous elections Ruth Davidson's put her name on the ballot paper, I want to express confidence and put my own name on the ballot paper as well and give people a choice, a direct choice between going back to the old arguments or a new kind of politics, a different kind of leader and a different focus for our parliament as we come through, and recover from it from COVID.”
Sarwar said the coronavirus would make this “a very different kind of election.”
He said: “A lot of the burden of the campaign is naturally going to fall on to the individual party leaders who are leading teams - I've got a fantastic team in this election campaign - but a lot of the focus is naturally going to go with the party leaders, and just like Nicola Sturgeon is expressing confidence in putting her name on the ballot, I'm expressing confidence as well.
“I'm expressing confidence that we can go out there and say, we can have a different kind of leader, we can build a different kind of Scotland, and we can focus on what unites not what divides us, and we can put a national recovery plan at the heart of our politics."
Asked if this was an admission that the Labour brand wasn't quite what it was, and if he would consider renaming the party, Sarwar said: “I love the Labour Party. No one is suggesting we change the name of the political party. I'm proud to lead the Scottish Labour Party. It is the greatest honour of my life to lead the Scottish Labour Party, but alongside that we can't live off our past achievements.
“I was very open on the day I was elected that in recent times we haven't given the people of Scotland the Labour Party they deserve. And I'm going to work day and night to change that.”
He added: “Yes, the Labour brand has had its difficulties, there's no point pretending otherwise.
"The Labour Party at times has not been good enough, but we're going to change that. It's under new management and I am determined and focused to rebuild this party so we have the opportunity to serve the country we love.”
During the questions, Sarwar said he had never spoken to Douglas Ross, despite the Scottish Tory leader’s pleas to rekindle the Better Together alliance.
Sarwar said: “I actually don't think I've ever dealt with Douglas Ross. And I think it probably tells you something about their tactics around the no confidence vote, that if they were actually serious about it and they weren't just using it as a political game, perhaps they would have spoken to other political parties and political leaders.
My understanding is he didn't speak to Willie Rennie about it. He didn't speak to me about it. I don't think he spoke to Patrick Harvie about it, and I'm pretty certain he didn't speak to Nicola Sturgeon about it. If he was serious rather than it being a political game perhaps he would have done.
“So, I don't know Douglas, I'm sure he is a perfectly pleasant and nice human being and I look forward to meeting him when he comes back to the Scottish Parliament. I've obviously met him before, but never really had a proper dialogue and exchange with them, but in the same spirit, I am happy to have human relationships, personal relationships with people from other political parties.
“I think it's important to do that. I said yesterday in the chamber that I like and respect. Ruth Davidson.
“I've obviously known Nicola Sturgeon for a very long time. She first stood in 1997 as a candidate in the Glasgow Govan election against one Mohammed Sarwar, who I know pretty well, and I think I was only 14 at the time, so I've known, Nicola Sturgeon a long time. She's come a long way in that long time. She's a very talented, very able politician, and one I also respect.
“I know and like Patrick Harvie, I respect him too and I know and like Willie Rennie and I respect him too.
“I'm not coming into this with a politics of prejudice or hatred. We might be political opponents, we may disagree with each other, we might fundamentally disagree with each other on big issues of the day, but disagreeing with each other is not a reason to dislike each other, and I think too often we forget that in politics."