Anas Sarwar interview: The scenes in Catalonia on Sunday were sickening

CommonSpace’s David Thomson speaks to Anas Sarwar about his campaign to become the next leader of Scottish Labour

SCOTTISH LABOUR’S ANAS Sarwar is urging the UK Government to use its influence to directly raise the issue of police brutality in Catalonia with the Spanish Government.

In an interview with CommonSpace, the Scottish Labour leadership candidate made the comments after violence marred the independence referendum in Catalonia on Sunday.

More than 90 per cent of Catalans voted in favour of the authority to become independent in a referendum.

This is despite Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy saying that the Catalans were fooled into taking part in an illegal vote after the constitutional court banned the vote.

“[The] scenes in Catalonia on Sunday were sickening.” Anas Sarwar

Almost 900 people were injured as police tried to stop the vote going ahead.

Even though Sarwar questioned the legality of the referendum and said it is for the Spanish authority, he added: “It’s clear that we need a political solution to this constitutional crisis”.

Sarwar went on to say that the “scenes in Catalonia on Sunday were sickening”.

He said: “It was a shameful decision by the Spanish Government to take such a heavy-handed approach, and it is horrifying to learn that so many people were injured just for trying to vote in a modern, democratic western European nation, like Spain.”

“I also urge everyone in Scotland to condemn such violence without feeling the need to score political points in our own constitutional debate.” Anas Sarwar

“I urge Theresa May and the UK Government to use Britain’s influence to directly raise the issue of police violence with the Spanish government - one of our close partners in the EU.

“I also urge everyone in Scotland to condemn such violence without feeling the need to score political points in our own constitutional debate.”

With the Scottish Labour party currently going through a leadership contest following the shock resignation of Kezia Dugdale in August, both Anas Sarwar and Richard Leonard have emerged as the leading candidates.

With voting beginning at the end of the month for the new leader, Sarwar said that his number one policy would be to introduce a rescue plan for the NHS on “day one of a Labour government”.

“A Labour government I lead will never short-change our NHS, and I will launch an action plan to rescue our health service on day one in office.” Anas Sarwar

Sarwar said: “Following a decade of SNP mismanagement, our dedicated NHS staff are over-worked, under-resourced and under pressure. We have severe shortages of NHS staff including nurses, midwives, GPs and consultants.

“This is now starting to impact on patient care, with services under threat as we simply don’t have the staff to operate them.

“A Labour government I lead will never short-change our NHS, and I will launch an action plan to rescue our health service on day one in office.

“The NHS is Labour’s greatest achievement in government. It will always be our top priority.”

“I believe the real Living Wage should become a mandatory requirement for all companies so that no company can opt out, and there is a level playing field across all sectors.” Anas Sarwar

According to Sarwar, his action plan would tackle “the workforce crisis in our NHS” by providing more training places at universities and colleges to increase the workforce in the NHS, ending the wage cap faced by NHS workers, and the transformation of GP practices into community hubs with more support services like mental health nurses, physiotherapists and advance speciality nurses.

At the start of his campaign to become leader, faced allegations related to United Wholesale (Scotland), in which he held shared, about a lack of trade union recognition and failure to pay the Living Wage.

Sarwar was asked if he regrets the way he handled those allegations, and said: “I play no active role in the running of the company and never have. I am not a director and never have been. I believe the real Living Wage should become a mandatory requirement for all companies so that no company can opt-out, and there is a level playing field across all sectors.”

On the eve of the Labour party conference in Brighton, Sarwar relinquished all of his shares in United Wholesale (Scotland), where he has signed a discretionary trust deed meaning he will never be able to access the shares.

Read more – Leonard: Legislation is needed to end charitable status for private schools

According to Sarwar, the beneficiaries of the trust will be his three children.

Meanwhile, Sarwar did not want to be drawn into news that Scottish Labour’s acting leader, Alex Rowley, was recorded saying that he would back his leadership rival, Richard Leonard, to replace Kezia Dugdale.

Rowley was overheard speaking to a student at The World Transformed event in Brighton, telling him that he believed “for some time “ that Leonard should lead the party in Scotland.

However, Rowley did suggest that Sarwar would only last four years if he won the election, in a taped conversation obtained by the Sun newspaper.

Sarwar said: “We are entirely focused on running a positive campaign and promoting radical policies for the future, and will leave the divisions of the past behind us.”

Picture courtesy of Scottish Labour

Look at how important CommonSpace has become, and how vital it is for the future #SupportAReporter