• Monday, November 28, 2022

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‘I want to change things for the better in Scotland’

Anas Sarwar (Photo: Fraser Bremner – WPA Pool/Getty Images).

By: Radhakrishna N S

 

By Anas Sarwar MSP
Scottish Labour leadership candidate

GROWING up, I saw both the ugly and the inspiring side of politics.

I was born in Glas­gow – it is a city where diverse communities are made to feel incred­ibly welcome and where I am proud to bring up my own family.

But, as in other cities across the UK, there is a small minority who seek to sow discord.

My earliest political memory is opening an envelope and seeing a mocked-up picture of my mother with two guns pointed at her head with the words ‘bang, bang, that’s all it takes’. That was because my father had the te­merity to consider him­self worthy of standing for political office.

My brother and I were assaulted cam­paigning for Labour in the 1990s. People would follow our family car, make prank phone calls, and even at one point, someone aimed a slingshot through the front window of our house and the stone hit my dad on the head.

But throughout all this, in the Labour movement, I saw a de­termination to make the world a better place.That was what inspired me to join Scottish La­bour, in the same way that it inspired my grandfather when he arrived in the UK on a boat with nothing and brought his family to live in the small village of Lossiemouth. It in­spired my father who started off selling eggs door to door in Glasgow and became Britain’s first Muslim MP.

If there’s one thing I have learned in recent years, it’s that you can either let the politics of division and disunity take hold, or you can have a politics of hope, empathy and unity.

I want to change things for the better and be part of making this a less hateful world for my children to grow up in. That’s why, three years ago, I spoke publicly for the first time about the racism I faced – both as a child and during the 2017 Scottish Labour leadership contest.

I launched the Scot­tish Parliament’s cross party group on tackling Islamophobia, and I de­voted the last few years to bringing our diverse communities together.

If elected as Scottish Labour leader, I will be the first minority ethnic leader of a major politi­cal party in the UK. I want to use my experi­ence of bringing differ­ent communities to­gether to the Scottish Labour movement.

I’m determined the next five years in Scot­land must be a Covid recovery parliament. I want to prioritise eco­nomic recovery that ad­dresses the jobs crisis with a business restart fund and a national training fund; commu­nity recovery with a fair deal for local councils; climate recovery; end to child poverty by 2030 and a public services recovery so our NHS never again has to choose between treat­ing a virus or cancer.

My watchwords will be empathy, unity and hope, and my motiva­tion will be rebuilding our nation. It would be an honour for me to have that opportunity.

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