It has to be said that the campaign by Anas Sarwar has been a huge disaster from start to finish, every day it seems his chances of being elected as leader go from nil to worse. The issues to do with his private life relating to his family business were not a problem for him until he stood for the leadership, just as sending his kids to private school sent a bad message that in his family, they weren’t part of the many just the privileged few.
Anas Sarwar using the party line ‘for the many not the few’ doesn’t ring true, but leaving all the personal stuff to the side, the signing of Muslim people simply to get a Muslim leader elected leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Of course the rules of the Scottish Labour are subject to change but the practice of some people in this election contest leaves a lot to be desired, even although the rules allow it.
I debated Anas Sarwar during Brexit, prior to that I have spoken to him in passing, he comes across as likeable in any dealings that I had with him. In fact, some of his personal issues such as sending his kids to private school don’t bother me in the slightest.
How he spends his money is his business.
It seems rather funny that after having such a bad campaign that Anas Sarwar’s campaign team want to put the icing on the cake and have him branded a ‘bad loser’, it seems his campaign team have obtained a QC opinion that brings legality of Scottish Labour leadership contest into "serious question".
So, what is the value of a QC opinion, well the value is the same as a guy who walks his dug along in the park. The Sarwar campaign doesn’t like the mass sign up of supporters by the Unite trade union; however their tactic of ‘sign up a Muslim to elect a Muslim’ appears to be fine with them. This contest is a bitter nasty affair, it didn’t have to be but this is how it has ended up, if anyone things when Anas Sarwar loses the election that there will be unity, they are kidding themselves on.
Anyone saying things like the party has now come together is either stupid, deluded or politically unaware.
So, why get a QC opinion?
Well, I would hazard a guess and say that some people might conclude that this is a tactic to try and encourage people to vote for Anas Sarwar since an insider apparently has said that Sarwar Campaign has ruled out a court challenge. As I mentioned earlier, in other blog posts, the Sarwar campaign is simply awful in their methods and execution.
A Unite spokesman responded to the latest news:
“This is ridiculous. The Labour party has confirmed time and again that Unite's members have signed up to this election legitimately and in full compliance with the rules. These hints and innuendos are a smokescreen to divert from discussion from the real issues at stake. They only bring the Sarwar campaign into disrepute for effectively trying to exclude trade union members who are entitled to a vote.”
The spokesman basically covers all the necessary points, rather than enhance the Sarwar Campaign it is a vote loser. After this contest, what is needed is a Scottish leader who supports Jeremy Corbyn, and Anas Sarwar isn’t that man. Anas pinned his colours to the mast being part of the progress crowd and also by calling for Corbyn to resign as leader. Now that Corbyn’s position is more secure in the party, the fact that Anas Sarwar says he supports Corbyn tends to ring rather hollow.
Kezia Dugdale jumped ship before the Momentum crowd forced her out by way of a leadership challenge, if Anas was elected then it would happen further down the line, it might take a bit more work but that fight would happen.
Whether Richard Leonard’s camp has benefited from a huge influx of trade union supporters to vote in the contest is something we will find out as we see the result, although Anas Sarwar has a lot of influence in Glasgow, outside this area, I seriously doubt he has the wider appeal to win, not just the leadership but Holyrood.
Labour MP Ian Murray, who is a Sarwar supporter was a critic who also called on Jeremy Corbyn to resign, he refused to be Shadow Scottish Sec which led to someone from an English seat being appointed.
He burnt his bridges and appears to be continuing that process as he wrote to party General Secretary Brian Roy claiming there was “no doubt whatsoever” that the Unite recruitment drive broke party rules.
One source in the Sarwar camp said:
“Given the level of concern raised about Unite’s sign-up process via text message, expert legal advice from a top QC was obtained that significantly strengthened those concerns about Unite’s practices, bringing the legality of the process into serious question. But in the interests of party unity, and to allow the campaign to focus on the policy debate that members want, no further action was taken and won’t be taken. Richard’s campaign was, however, privately made aware of the advice.”
The bit which is laughable is of course:
“But in the interests of party unity, and to allow the campaign to focus on the policy debate that members want, no further action was taken and won’t be taken”.
I read this and think that Anas is staking a claim to be in a Leonard Shadow Cabinet at Holyrood.
Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish Secretary has decided to be quite outspoken and has hit back at the criticisms of his union. At the Unite’s Scottish Policy Conference in Aviemore, he said:
“Let me make it abundantly clear. Accusations of Unite trying to 'fix' the leadership election are absolutely outrageous and totally unfounded. Unite has broken no rules and has complied with all the requirements laid down to us by the Scottish Labour Party. The party itself has confirmed this to be the case.”
In a stark "message" for
“Don’t try and use Unite in an attempt to cover up your own failing campaign for Anas Sarwar. Try getting on with your job – instead of backstabbing your leader and resigning from your post. It's people like you who are doing more damage to this party than anything else. It’s not Unite who are rigging the vote! It’s not Unite giving false news stories to the media!”
It should be noted that the majority of CLPs and trade Unions are backing Richard Leonard, not Anas Sarwar.
Former Labour Education Minister Hugh Henry s backing Richard Leonard has had a go at Anas Sarwar for sending his children to a private school.
“It's wrong that parents can still buy privilege in education while our comprehensive system is denied the resources to deliver a first-class education for all.”
And of course, he had a dig over Sarwar’s family firm not paying the real living wage to all its employees as well. In order to kill the story into his business affairs Sarwar relinquished his multi-million pound shareholding in the family firm after the wages being offered at United Wholesale (
were publicly revealed. Anas Sarwar then compounded that episode by digging a
Finally, one thing which Anas Sarwar might want to focus on after he loses is why his campaign team were so bad, unprepared and stupid, assuming he plans to try again in the future, however when you get rejected for leader once, it rather makes the next time a bigger mountain to climb.
The Campaign for Human Rights at