The Wee Ginger Dug is off this week, so The Jouker will be filling in.

IT isn’t clear which of these groups Anas Sarwar holds in greater contempt: former Scottish Labour voters or his own party’s councillors.

The branch office boss has been busy launching his party’s local election manifesto ahead of May 5’s council ballots.

His latest quotes perfectly encapsulate why Labour remain so far behind in polls in Scotland.

First up, the vintage entitlement was on full show, as Sarwar said: “I know people will have left the Labour Party, they might not have ideologically supported the Conservatives, they might have held their nose and voted Conservative before, and I’m saying to those people, come back home and let’s change our country together, let’s change the politics of division.

“To those who left the Labour Party, or who have never voted Labour but have voted SNP because they thought that was the chance of getting change, after 15 years of this SNP government, public transport is not being supported in the right way, bills are going up, our public services are being decimated, our NHS is on its knees despite the hard work and effort of our frontline NHS staff, let’s not wait for that hope of change some point in the future, we can change the country right now.”

You heard him. Solve the “politics of division” by voting for Labour. Don’t mind the candidates being thrown out the door as you walk in, because they’ve dared to support even the possibility of Scotland holding a second independence referendum.

The “come home” line has also attracted plenty of attention. Scottish Labour have been repeatedly accused of taking voters for granted, for believing that they are entitled to votes, for making little effort to actually earn votes.

Saying that voters who haven’t backed you for a decade are “coming home” is quite bold.

So, we’ve established what Sarwar thinks of ex-Labour voters, treating them as lost children who have merely wandered a little astray.

Next, he ruled out any formal council coalitions with the SNP or Tories.

He said: “I think both the SNP and Tories have been bad for our country, I think both of them have decimated our communities, both of them are driving up poverty across our country, both aren’t doing enough to address the cost of living crisis, so let’s change the way we do local democracy, let’s have decisions made about what’s right for local communities rather than party political stitch-ups.

“So I don’t think that we should have formal coalitions with either.”

This is quite the slap in the face for councils in Dumfries and Galloway, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Fife, South Ayrshire and Stirling, all with coalitions featuring both the SNP and Labour.

With Sarwar describing coalitions as “political stitch-ups”, he’s love-bombing them with precisely the same deftness as saying Labour is the party ending division while banning pro-indyref2 candidates.

Asked if councillors entering a non-approved coalition would be suspended, Sarwar said: “I'm very confident that there will be a good relationship between our councillors and our Scottish Executive. Things have changed in the Labour Party.”


This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

To receive our full newsletter including this analysis straight to your email inbox, click here and tick the box for the REAL Scottish Politics