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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
17 February 2023
Sarwar makes appeal to SNP voters to reclaim control of Westminster

Anas Sarwar speaking on the first day of the Scottish Labour Party Conference at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh | Alamy

Sarwar makes appeal to SNP voters to reclaim control of Westminster

Anas Sarwar has made an appeal to people who have voted for the SNP in the past as his party attempts to reclaim control at Westminster.

Speaking at the Scottish Labour spring conference in Edinburgh, he told Scottish voters that they “deserve better” and urged them to come together to “boot the Tories out of Downing Street”.  

He told the conference that change is not just needed in the UK, but in Scotland too. Sarwar branded the SNP Government “tired and arrogant”.  

“After 15 years of a Scottish nationalist government, there is not a single institution in Scotland that is stronger. Every single one is weaker.”

Sarwar cited A&E waiting times, drug deaths, and NHS vacancies as some of the government's failings. He told the conference: “That’s not a record to be proud of.”

In a further criticism of the SNP, he said that in the coming weeks, the party would be concerned with “talking to themselves, about themselves” when the country “requires politicians focussed on delivering the change that Scotland need”.  

Sarwar told the conference of some of the policies they can expect under a Labour government, including “an Amazon Tax”. The tax, which is not exclusive to Amazon, would target online retailers that are not classed as retail spaces, which allows them to pay millions of pounds less in taxes compared with a shop on the high street.  

“Why should small and medium-sized businesses pay exorbitant rates while giant online corporations like Amazon get away with paying less than their fair share? We can end this injustice...

“That’s how we rebuild our crumbling town centres and cities.”

The Scottish Labour leader also announced that his government would have a dedicated housing minister, to help solve the country’s housing crisis.  

Alongside the new ministerial role, he announced that his party will launch a £1 homes scheme. The “radical policy” would buy up neglected, long-term empty homes, of which there are 27,000 in Scotland, and sell them on to future homeowners for £1.

The homes would not be available to be put up for let, and homeowners would have to live in them for five years before selling them. Buyers will be able to acquire a loan through the government to renovate the homes.  

“We are committed to increasing home ownership levels across our country, because that is the change that Scotland needs.”

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