‘I want to change things for the better in Scotland’ Anas Sarwar (Photo: Fraser Bremner – WPA Pool/Getty Images).
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.