ANAS Sarwar refused to specify what new powers he would want for Holyrood despite pledging to “make devolution work” for Scotland and the UK.

In a speech setting out Scottish Labour’s priorities for the year in Rutherglen, Sarwar made an attempt to reach out to pro-independence supporters by asking them to give his party “the opportunity to show you we can make the UK work for every corner of our country”.

But when he was asked about what powers he might wish to bring across the border, he would not go into specifics and simply pointed to Gordon Brown’s commission on the future of the UK.

The commission did recommend more powers for devolved nations and reform for the House of Lords, but these are ideas which have been floated by Labour several times in the past and have never been delivered upon.

Sarwar also insisted the SNP are being “arrogant” by continuing to argue independence is the way forward for Scotland.

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Asked whether he wanted any specific new powers for Holyrood, Sarwar said: “We’ve set out the Gordon Brown commission and published our own papers last summer on the change we want to see.

“It’s important to stress that this pretence that somehow only Westminster is broken and everything else is fine is just not true.

“The reality is every layer of our government is broken. The House of Lords is broken where you have Tories using it reward cronies and donors and therefore we’re going to reform the House of Lords and make it democratic.

“We’re going to reform the House of Commons to get honesty back into Westminster and push power out of Westminster, but we’re going to push power out of Holyrood as well and we’re going to reform local government so local government right now isn’t in survival mode but is instead able to invest in communities.

“We will change every layer in government and we will set that out in more detail in our manifesto.”

It was an awkward event for Sarwar as a large protest was staged outside the town hall by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign where activists called out the area’s MP Michael Shanks for abstaining on a Israel/Gaza ceasefire vote at Westminster in November.

He and fellow Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray abstained on an SNP amendment to the King's Speech calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East and instead backed Labour's amendment, which called for longer humanitarian pauses. 

Sarwar voted for a ceasefire in the Scottish Parliament but did not seem to be able to command his MPs south of the Border to do the same in the Commons.

Shanks was elected as MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West in a by-election in October after voters opted to remove the former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier as their representative via a recall petition.

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Elsewhere in his speech to Labour members at Rutherglen Town Hall, Sarwar pledged to work on a “new deal” for working people and “make work pay”, delivering “the most transformative change for working people in a generation”.

He promised to scrap zero hour contracts, ban the “scandal” of fire and rehire and introduce a “genuine” living wage, in the first 100 days of an incoming Labour government.

Sarwar additionally pledged to scrap the non-dom tax loophole and ensure Scotland “leads the way” in green energy via a publicly-owned energy generation company – branded GB Energy - headquartered in Scotland.

The National asked how pro-independence voters could be convinced Keir Starmer wants to change the constitutional situation and pressed Sarwar on how he expected to get them on side when he won’t even entertain a second referendum.

He responded: “What I would say to that is do and talk to the people who voted for independence and then voted for Michael Shanks in this by-election.

“The reason why they did is because every SNP attack, they see right through it.

“If the SNP want to pretend that somehow Scotland keeps voting SNP when it doesn’t, I think that is being arrogant.

“The same arrogance we were accused of when Labour was in government in Scotland, I think the SNP are demonstrating that. They do not have a divine right to rule Scotland.”