ANAS SARWAR MP explains why he would make a great Deputy Leader for the Scottish Labour Party and outlines the way forward for the Party.

 

I started my campaign to become the Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party in Lossiemouth in the North East of Scotland.

I did this for two reasons: I wanted to start my campaign where my family started their lives in Scotland and I wanted to show there should be no ‘no-go’ areas for Labour in Scotland.

I have enjoyed speaking to hundreds of Party members about what we got wrong in May but more importantly about how we rebuild our Party.

We have to acknowledge that the manner of our defeat in May let down, not just our party, but our country.

Scotland deserves a better, stronger and more confident Labour Party. We must define what our Party’s values and principles mean in 21st century Scotland. If we are to take on the SNP and hope to govern, then we must fundamentally change the way we engage with the public.

My campaign is focussed around four key areas.

Firstly, we must unify as a Party. Team Labour must be more than just a slogan but the way that we operate as a Party on a daily basis.

We must treat all elected members, regardless of the chamber in which they sit, as equals. This must be the new Leadership team’s priority as the next big electoral test will be the local Government elections in May.

The fact that Labour MPs and MSPs have only met twice in the last seven years emphasises everything that is wrong with the current Scottish Labour Party. As someone who is a friend of the Scottish Parliament and passionately believes in Devolution, I am convinced that I am the candidate best placed to do this.

I am honoured to have the support of over two-thirds of my Parliamentary colleagues including a majority of MSPs, as well as 110 supporting nominations from Councillors.

But while it is important we rebuild our relationships internally we must also reconnect with Scotland and speak to wider public concerns.

We must also acknowledge that we have neglected our relationships with our Trade Unions and affiliates, the third sector, faith groups, the business community as well as the electorate.

I have the energy and enthusiasm to get around the country and build the foundations for whoever our new leader is. To give them the best chance possible to become the next First Minister of Scotland.

We need to fundamentally change the way we develop policy. I served on the 2007 policy forum prior to the Scottish Parliament elections, spending two years producing a series of policy documents which were not adequately reflected in the eventual manifesto.

If elected as Deputy I will lead the way in ensuring that elected members pay more than just lip service to the role of Party members in our policy processes and ensure that every member feels a stake in the future political direction of our Party.

We have a fantastic array of talent and experience in our movement and we are missing an opportunity if we marginalise them in our policy processes.

I recently chaired a policy commission for the Young Fabians entitled Building Stronger Communities. We held sessions in London, Manchester and Glasgow taking contributions from a mainly youthful audience who were asked to pitch potential policies for a fictional manifesto. What struck me about the commission was how enthusiastic and engaging our members were in the policy process and how many good ideas we heard.

If elected as Deputy Leader I will encourage events such as the Building Stronger Communities Commission to enrich our policy process, connect our policy makers to the ideas of members and affiliates and give them a personal stake in our Party manifestos.

We must use the collective talent of our movement in conjunction with civic Scotland to ensure that our policy is thorough and practical, staying true to our values but also offering the Scottish people a positive vision of Scotland.

Given the donations the SNP have been given recently we may not be able to match them on cash resource but we can beat them on energy, ideas and enthusiasm. To do this we need to tap into the collective talent of the wider Labour movement.

But while the focus has been on our structures and organisation there is no denying it was a political defeat in May.

We must take the SNP on in the argument and win but since our defeat in May we have allowed the SNP and the media to describe our Party as bust, devoid of ideas and talent.

I believe Scottish Labour has a bright future. We have immense talent in our party and our wider movement but we need do more to promote that talent.

We must do more to give people the confidence, the training and the backing to contribute to our Party.

As Deputy I will use my position to encourage and promote the talent we have in our movement, young and old, to build the strongest team possible to promote the Labour values that we all share.

These will be my key priorities as Labour’s Deputy Leader.

I care deeply about the future of our Party and I have the energy and the motivation to bring our movement together.

To contact me or to get involved in my campaign please get in touch by emailing contact@anassarwar.org.

I look forward to working with you to rebuild our movement and help deliver a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.

Anas Sarwar is the MP for Glasgow Central and a candidate for the Deputy Leadership of the Scottish Labour Party. More information can be found at www.anassarwar.org

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12 thoughts on “Rebuilding our Movement: Reconnecting with Scotland

  1. Sorry, but I didn’t find a single thing in your article about what you are going to do for the people of Scotland. It seems to be solely about the Labour party.

    Governments are supposed to listen to the people and try their best to deliver what they hope for. A party that listens to the people and becomes their voice does not need to focus on ‘beating the opposition’ (which seems to be the only goal of the Labour party these days) as support for them will come naturally.

    Stop talking about the Labour party and start talking about Scotland.

    Just some friendly advice.

    1. I’m sure Mr Sarwar will eventually get round to telling us all what his vision for Scotland will be under the next Labour Government and how he will help to be leading a full and wholesome party machine in their quest to win back all those dis-illusioned supporters. But first things first.

      Although there is no such registered entity as The Scottish Labour Party, this should not detract from the efforts of party members to demonstrate to their London leaders that they have the skill and determination to ensure that the policy decrees emanating from Victoria St and their leader Ed Milliband, will be adhered to without dissent. A strong hand will be needed to ensure Labours traditional adherence to procedural diktat.

      Any free-thinking idealogues, such as contemplating support for Scottish Government initiatives should certainly be avoided at this time.

  2. Anas Sarwar is right to get around the country in his campaign. Labour has to speak for all of Scotland and not just the West of Scotland – and we have to start with our members. It is about time Labour had someone who works hard and doesn’t take members for granted.

    John Simon, Unison member, Forfar

  3. Hard work is crucial,but so are the policies.And the policies of Mr Milliband are suitable for middle England.Not Scotland.

  4. I tend to agree with Scottish Skier and John Simon. You have to realise that Scotland exists outside Glasgow. What is the Labour Party? What is it for ? Why are many of the poorest areas of North West Europe in Scotland when they have been represented by Labour for 50,70,100 years? This is surely the chance to start again, forget what other Parties are doing, define what you stand for and formulate policies to achieve your goals.
    This is where Labour is in trouble, with Socialists rubbing shoulders with Blairites, Britnats in the same party as those who would put Scotland first.
    Good luck, I think you’ll need some!

  5. Question is, what does Labour have to offer and what would Lablour like to offer?
    if labour really wants to get the people onside there needs to be a radical shift in what MPs and MSPs can do for the benefit of people, not the party hierarchy. Labour needs to be seen to be in favour of Scotland within the UK. That means protecting the Union, but it cannot mean just accepting any Westminster proposal. Campaigning to get rid of the supreme court (which is an attack on the union in itself), restoring the territirial waters removed by Blair and a decent approach to personal liberty would all help, but there’s no sign of anything of the kind being forthcoming.
    Democratic reform is vital. nobody who understands FPTP can honestly beleive that it is ‘fair’…..you can get 80% of the seat for 40% of the votes; how can that be right? FTPT has favoured Labour in the past, but those days may be gone. The next Westminster GE could see Scottish Labour in the position that the (Westminster) SNP are in just now….a pretty good haul of votes, but only a handful of MPs.

  6. I m wondering why I m not impressed with this and I m sorry to be direct, but wonder if your blog is more about you?
    Its the usual rehtoric with no substance, and the usual lets bash the NATs.

    You recognise that we had a defeat, yes, we all know it, but how did we manage to mess it up so badly, even with a media that is so pro union and anti SNP, the SNP have connected with Scotland, we havent.
    Taking the Labour party into a Nationalist heartland that has no history of industrialisation or the labour movement, I wonder how well you know Lossie?
    I know Lossie, and the majority of people think as much of Labour as they do Tory, or maybe I am missing something?

  7. Just commenting on todays news

    I’m glad Anas was elected as deputy leader, they need some young blood in
    We will see what happens next

    A couple of questions for The new gang in charge

    I saw J Lamont (can’t rember how to spell first name) fully endorse the Calman proposals
    This means removal of planning from Holyrood to Westminster (and the possible forcing of new nuclear power stations on Scotland)

    Do the new leader and deputy support this propsal in the Scotland Bill?

  8. Im sorry Yousuf but there is little that the Scottish Parliament can do to stop the cuts. It is the very smilpe fact that the purse strings are held by westminster and we only spend the pocket money we are given. Calman is a distraction it will not work as like the Tartan tax it will not be used. What it gives is a zero sum game and cannot let us grow our economy or even borrow to tide over shortages in taxes knowing we will get better ones later in the financial year.You state that you are a progressive but so do the Conservative Unionist party. It is just there idea of progressive is totally different from yours. Actually Labour is more the conservative party. Labour seems to think that taxing people suffering increased pension contributions, Job worries, no pay rises will work. Labour have to get real and be prepared to look at Scotland and realise that the Union they crow for as it is set up hurts Scotland. Calman is a waste of time and only Scotland able to control its own finances will ever allow Scotlands people the right to have the society they want. The smilpe fact is that we have a democratic deficiency. The Scottish Parliament is powerless when Westminster pulls the financial strings. Westminster elections are decided in the South of England and when it comes to choices what is best for Scotland will always become second to what is best for the South of England.

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