Another five years of Tory Government an ‘unbearable nightmare’, warns Sarwar

Anas Sarwar has made a fresh appeal to independence supporters to back Labour in the forthcoming general election – warning another five years of Tory rule at Westminster would be an “unbearable nightmare”.

In a speech focused on the election, which is due to take place this year, the Scottish Labour leader turned his fire on both the Tories and the SNP.

He described the two parties as the “very best of frenemies” which both have a “track record of failure in government”.

He said: “The SNP and the Tories are now the very best of frenemies.

“They use each other as an excuse and a cover for their own failings.”

Mr Sarwar told voters north of the border that Scotland will be “at the heart of the next UK Labour government”.

He told supporters: “Let’s boot the Tories out of Downing Street, but more than that, let’s put Scotland at the heart of government.”

This year’s general election gives voters the chance to ‘change our country’, Anas Sarwar said (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He said: “The coming election is an opportunity to get rid of this rotten Tory Government, and to tell the SNP that we’ve had enough of you failing Scotland and its people.

“But it’s more than that – it’s an opportunity to change the country.”

Labour, he insisted, will seek to end the “culture of financial mismanagement and secrecy” and look to “restore trust in our politics”.

Making a direct appeal to independence supporters, he said he can “understand why people want to run a million miles away from this rotten Tory Government”.

While stressing he does not support independence or a second referendum, he said Labour can “finally boot out this corrupt, immoral Tory Government”.

As Labour also eyes the 2026 Scottish Parliament election, Mr Sarwar set out what changes his party could make if voted into power at Holyrood.

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(PA Graphics)

“This Scottish Government has resorted to using income tax as a substitute for economic growth,” Mr Sarwar said.

He promised Labour at Holyrood would seek to “streamline and improve regulation so Scotland is open to business”.

He also pledged to speed up the country’s planning system, saying the length of time it can take to grant approval for projects can deter businesses from investing.

While councils will still make planning decisions, Labour will look to set up a national resource to provide them with expertise and support when considering if developments should go ahead.

Speeding up the system will help the economy and boost house-building, making “the dream of home ownership for everyone a reality again”.

Anas Sarwar
Anas Sarwar and his wife Furheen after his speech at the Scottish Labour conference (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Responding to Mr Sarwar’s speech, Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said the Labour leader’s “boasts about growing the Scottish economy” are “fatally undermined” by Labour’s planned windfall tax on oil and gas firms.

The Tory MSP said the “economically illiterate policy” had prompted a “huge and justified backlash from business groups” in the north east of Scotland.

Mr Hoy continued: “Anas Sarwar had some nerve claiming to offer change from the disastrous SNP Government, when he and his Labour MSPs have voted with them on so many issues, including oil and gas, gender self-ID and tax rises.

“This presumptuous speech offered nothing new or inspiring for communities across Scotland.”

Meanwhile SNP MSP Rona Mackay said:  “Yet again Anas Sarwar has stood up and delivered no vision, no plan and no policies to the people of Scotland.

“Instead we were treated to more slogans, more catchphrases and nothing of substance.

“The only thing for certain was that Anas Sarwar doubled down on the fact that his party will decimate our energy industry and leave thousands of workers behind.”

She claimed: “The contrast with an SNP Government delivering for everyone in Scotland couldn’t be clearer.

“The SNP is lifting children out of poverty, supporting households through the Westminster cost-of-living crisis, delivering a just transition and tackling NHS waiting lists.

“Those are our priorities.

“The SNP takes our instructions from the people of Scotland, delivering every day in government and building our positive vision for an independent nation, free from Westminster governments for good.”

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