POLITICS: Anas Sarwar tells Scottish Labour to rule out council coalitions with SNP and Tories

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar campaigning with Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton at Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria.

By Lucy Ashton

The Glasgow Herald is reporting that Labour should not make any deals or form coalitions with either the SNP and Tories following May’s local elections, Anas Sarwar has said.

The party leader was speaking ahead of May’s council elections as he said pacts and coalitions with their rivals should be ruled out.

Instead, Mr Sarwar said Labour could run minority administrations if the proportional representation voting system failed to deliver a majority ruling party.

Mr Sarwar’s comments came as he made it plain Labour candidates standing at May’s Scottish local election would be expected to back a “reformed and renewed UK” and sign up to a pro-UK manifesto.

He dismissed reports that the party could allow candidates who support Scottish independence to stand for election – with claims that UK leader Sir Keir Starmer could potentially back this as he bids to find a route back to power at Westminster.

Mr Sarwar said: “On the question directly of candidates, we will be a pro-UK party standing for a reformed and renewed UK and all of our candidates would be expected to abide by that manifesto.”

He made his comments as he said Labour would “throw everything” at the council elections on May 5.

After the number of councillors the party had fallen from 395 to 262 in the previous elections in 2017, Mr Sarwar said that had been a “difficult result” for Scottish Labour, which came in third behind the SNP and Tories.

Power-sharing coalitions, such as one between Labour and the SNP in Edinburgh City Council, were then formed as well as a contentious agreement wit the Tories in Aberdeen after a failure to win the backing of the party.

Such deals with other parties have to win the support of Labour’s ruling Scottish Executive Committee (SEC), with red lines expected over deals with parties that oppose compulsory redundance and cuts to local government.

Mr Sarwar said: “My strong view, and this is a discussion we will have with our colleagues in local government and also with the Scottish Executive Committee, is I don’t think we should be doing pacts or deals or coalitions.

“I don’t think we should be looking at coalitions with any political party, but rather looking to maximise Labour representation and winning individual arguments on their merits.

“I want us to build from where we were and I want us to aspire to have representation across all parts of the country, and to win as many seats as possible and to be influencing as many people’s lives as possible by having Labour administrations and Labour councillors.”

He added: “We shouldn’t be doing formal coalitions. Of course, local authority elections, with a proportional representation system, you’re likely to have almost all if not all councils where every political party is in a minority.

“We’ve got to be grown up about that in terms of our politics But I don’t think that’s about formal coalitions – I think that’s about doing the right thing on individual issues.”

One comment

  1. Labour are still utterly toxic to the vast majority of voters.That is not going to change.

    That said, Labour know the SNP are becoming unpopular and are thus positioning themselves in the hope that they can secure disaffected SNP votes. Personally I don’t think this will happen because votes will go to Alba and good independents and not Labour.

    And why do I say this.

    Well at the last Hollyrood election, when all was supposedly set fine, the SNP failed to take their number one target seat of Dumbarton despite throwing huge targeted headquarters resources at the seat. In fact Jackie Baillie’s majority of a slender 109 votes swelled to nearly a thousand.

    Moreover, the SNP also failed to secure a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament. Nicola Surgeon’s two votes SNP was a disaster delivering a minority number of seats.

    However with Labour nothing has changed so I do not expect a change in their vote.But with Alba and Independents, they’ll make big progress.

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