LONDON: Scottish Labour named Anas Sarwar as their new leader on Saturday, ahead of an election for the country’s devolved parliament in May.

Sarwar, a Glasgow member of the Scottish parliament (MSP), succeeds Richard Leonard who resigned in January.

Anas is son of Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar. In a tweet on Saturday, he said that “as a father I am overjoyed & proud to see you, @AnasSarwar make history & take on the responsibility of rebuilding the Scottish Labour Party. I am sure that will do justice to the role with sincerity/commitment & will strive to meet the expectations of all who voted for you.”

Sarwar is the first minority ethnic leader of a major political party in the UK.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar expresses joy at the decision by saying his son will strive to meet expectations of all

He said the party under his leadership would “focus on what unites our country – not what divides it”.

Sarwar, a former deputy leader of Scottish Labour backed by a majority of the party’s parliamentarians, defeated the other candidate Monica Lennon, a less experienced MSP backed on the party’s left, winning 57.6pc of the vote.

Opposition Labour’s fortunes have flagged in Scotland with the Scottish National Party (SNP) the dominant force. Labour has 23 out of 129 seats in the parliament.

“I want to say directly to the people of Scotland — I know Labour has a lot of work to do to win back your trust because if we’re brutally honest you haven’t had the Scottish Labour party you deserve,” said Sarwar.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon wants a strong showing for her party in the election on May 6 to hand her a mandate to hold a second referendum on independence — something British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will not approve.

Opinion polls indicate a majority back a second referendum.

But the SNP is in the midst of a bitter row between Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond that could eventually put pressure on her to resign and threatens to damage the independence movement.

Leonard said in January it was in the best interests of the party for him to stand down before the May election.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2021

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