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Unions call for unity behind Sarwar after Scottish Labour leadership victory

Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter
·2 min read

Trade unions have appealed for unity ahead of May’s Holyrood elections as Anas Sarwar takes over as leader of Scottish Labour.

The Glasgow MSP defeated Monica Lennon in the contest to succeed Richard Leonard after his shock resignation in January.

Mr Sarwar’s victory makes him the first person from an ethnic minority background to lead a party in the UK.

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Within minutes of his election, the TSSA and shop workers’ union Usdaw released statements calling for the membership to unite behind Mr Sarwar ahead of the poll in just ten weeks.

Labour are currently languishing in third place behind the Scottish Tories in the polls, with a recent Ipsos Mori survey putting support for the party at 15% in the constituency vote and 14% in the regional list.

Stewart Forrest, divisional officer for Scotland at Usdaw – which nominated Mr Sarwar for the top job – said: “Usdaw nominated Anas Sarwar for leader because we believe he is the right person to rebuild Scottish Labour and then rebuild Scotland.

“So we are delighted that he has won the support of Labour members and affiliated supporters.

“Usdaw members, their families and working people across Scotland need a strong Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament and across the country, speaking out for them on their issues.

“With the election coming in May, it is crucial that Scottish Labour comes together behind the new leader and puts forward a positive message to the country.”

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The head of the TSSA union, which represents transport workers and backed Mr Sarwar’s rival, also called for unity among members.

“Anas is right when he says that we cannot go back to society as it was before – insecure work, an underfunded health service – after the pandemic,” said general secretary Manuel Cortes.

“What we need now is a strong united Labour Party that will hold the SNP government to account and build for the future.”