ANAS Sarwar has defended Keir Starmer’s leadership of Labour after the party dropped in the polls and rows over candidates making alleged antisemitic remarks.

The Scottish Labour leader backed his boss and said he “didn’t buy” the criticism of Starmer after a Savanta survey put the party at only a 12-point lead over the Tories, down five points.

It is the lowest level Labour has sat at since June, and comes amid fierce criticism of Starmer’s stance on Gaza and Israel.

The UK Labour leader was also forced to ditch two candidates, Azhar Ali in the upcoming Rochdale by-election and Hyndburn candidate Graham Jones, after accusations of anti-semitism regarding remarks made by both men at a party meeting.

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And now, Sarwar has refused to accept any criticism of his Westminster leader, and rubbished the poll as simply being a “snapshot of one point in time”.

In an interview with Clyde News, at the launch of a paper on the economy in East Kilbride, Sarwar insisted that Starmer should be given credit for taking Labour from its “worst result in living memory to now looking like we can win a general election with a majority”.

“I think he has to get credit for that leadership, and I don’t buy the criticisms at all,” Sarwar said.

“I think the criticisms are coming from our political opponents or those that have a factual interest to see the Labour party failing rather than the Labour party succeeding.

“In terms of the actual poll itself, I think it proves something that I’ve always believed to be the case, which is, polls will narrow as we get closer to the election.

“So this idea that the election is a done deal - an opinion poll is a snapshot of one point in time - it is not an indication of what will happen at the next election.”

He insisted that polls will “continue to narrow” as the General Election approaches.

Sarwar also told LBC that the party had stringent “due diligence” processes in the selection of Ali for the by-election, but “sadly new information came to light”.

Ali will still be listed on the ballot paper as a Labour candidate but he has been suspended from the party because of accusations of antisemitism.

He was recorded suggesting in a meeting of the Lancashire Labour Party that Israel had taken the October 7 Hamas assault as a pretext to invade Gaza.

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Jones was later suspended from the party after referring to “f***ing Israel” at the same meeting.

It comes as Scottish Labour have taken aim at the Scottish Government’s “shroud of secrecy” towards public finances ahead of its party conference in Glasgow at the weekend.

The party has said a future Labour government in Holyrood would produce a charter of fiscal transparency with key principles to underpin any future leader’s approach to public finances.

It would see whole government accounts published in the interest of public scrutiny alongside strategic reform which would prioritise value for money.

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The charter’s proposals include a pledge to deliver fair funding for local government with an independent Barnett-style formula to stop councils being “short-changed”.

Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman Michael Marra (above) has criticised the Scottish Government’s “financial mismanagement and economic failure”.

“Years of financial mismanagement and economic failure has left Scots poorer and public finances at breaking point,” he said.

“The SNP is using income tax as a sticking plaster for economic growth, leaving Scots paying more and getting less in return.

“That’s why Labour is today giving the people of Scotland a cast-iron commitment that a future Labour government will open the books and deliver value for money.”