Scots Labour leader Sarwar calls for unity to conquer ‘us versus them’ politics

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Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has called for Scotland to unite behind his party and defeat “us versus them” politics.

Speaking for the first time at the Labour conference as the party’s leader in Scotland, Mr Sarwar said success across the UK would require success in Scotland, which he has described as the “first red wall to fall”.

The leader went on to attack the ruling parties in Scotland and Westminster.

“While the SNP revel in an us v them politics in Scotland, across the UK we also have an us v them Tory Government,” he said.

“Taking £20 away from the poorest families in the UK, while handing millions of pound deals to their friends.

“We cannot defeat the us vs them politics with our own version of us vs them. Instead we’ve got to build a campaign that is about all of us.

“An all of us to keep our country together. An all of us to rebuild our NHS. An all of us to end child poverty. An all of us to end division, prejudice and hatred. And an all of us to rebuild this country we all love.

“Now, of course, there’s a place for opposition politics, of course, we want to oppose these two Governments but, fundamentally, that’s not why we joined the Labour Party.

“It is not enough to just oppose a Tory Government, I want us to replace a Tory Government.

“And it is not enough to just oppose an SNP Government, I want us to replace an SNP Government.”

Anas Sarwar in Holyrood
Anas Sarwar was making his first speech as leader to the Labour Party conference in Brighton (Jane Barlow/PA)

He continued: “It’s on us, the Labour Party, to defeat the politics of anger with the politics of empathy.

“It’s on us, the Labour Party, to defeat the politics of division with the politics of unity.

“And it’s on us, the Labour Party, to defeat the politics of despair with the politics of hope.”

Mr Sarwar also confirmed he was planning to launch a commission focused on the transition away from fossil fuels, fronted by former energy minister, Brian Wilson.

Any transition, the leader claimed, must avoid the mistakes of the move away from coal in the 1980s, “where communities were hollowed out, workers were stripped of their dignity and our industrial base was destroyed”.

“Sadly, that is the path that the SNP and the Tories currently have us on. The only way to avoid that injustice is to demand not just a just transition, but a jobs-first transition.

“That is why today I am announcing an Energy Transition Commission – led by former energy minister Brian Wilson, to help create a fairer, greener and more prosperous future.”

He added that winter fuel payments to pensioners must also be increased by £70 to tackle the expected price rises due this winter, to ensure an “end to the choice between heating and eating”.

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