Scottish Labour leader calls Nicola Sturgeon “arrogant” - as party looks set to overtake Tories in local elections

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The leader of Scottish Labour has vowed to bring the party into the 21st Century - and branded first minister Nicola Sturgeon “arrogant” for denying the scale of the ferry fiasco.

Polling suggests Labour could be poised to overtake the Tories and regain second place in Scottish politics after dismal losses in recent years.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar charmed voters this time last year by doing an impromptu choreography routine to Uptown Funk while out campaigning in West Lothian.

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He said he plans to turn “likeability” into “electability”, and accused the SNP of misuse of public funds over the ferry fiasco.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar unveiled his party's manifesto on ThursdayScottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar unveiled his party's manifesto on Thursday
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar unveiled his party's manifesto on Thursday

Mr Sarwar said: “I recognise that we’ve got a long, hard path. I think people can see that we are making positive progress around getting credibility back for the Labour Party, actually building an organisation that’s fit for purpose for the 21st century.

“And I want to demonstrate progress in this election campaign, and demonstrate that we are moving forward.”

“I think we have built likeability. The challenge is now to turn that into electability.

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He poured scorn on a 21-day “cost-of-living” tour of Scotland launched by the SNP ahead of the elections on May 5.

Mr Sarwar said: “I look forward to Nicola Sturgeon touring the country, community by community, telling them how much she has cut from their budgets, how much she has decimated their communities, how much she has withdrawn from their schools, how much she’s cut back the local NHS services, how much she’s withdrawn from the cleansing budgets, how much she’s withdrawn from the local play parks, all the promises that she made that she’s failed to deliver.

“Nicola Sturgeon can spend as much money as she likes on the tour bus - the reality is she’s not putting enough money back into people’s pockets in the cost of living crisis, and that’s what people I think ultimately will judge them on.”

He accused Ms Sturgeon’s administration of being “out of energy, out of ideas, and I hope soon out of time”, and said both the UK and Scottish governments are failing Scotland.

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Mr Sarwar has ruled out formal council coalitions, but accepts “on individual issues you will need to seek to find agreement”.

Elsewhere, his party could soon find itself playing a key role in scrutinising the so-called ferries fiasco.

The troubled bid to be build two CalMac ferries at Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow is widely expected to be investigated by Holyrood’s public audit committee, which is chaired by former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.

Over the weekend, Ms Sturgeon said the public knows everything there is to know about the debacle.

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Mr Sarwar said: “I don’t know whether Nicola Sturgeon’s comments are a reflection of her arrogance or whether it’s a reflection of the fact that they think they can dupe the electorate and get away with it.

“I think it’s very clear that this has been an absolute fiasco.

“I think it’s very clear that there has been a misuse of public funds “I think it’s very clear that there was a political motive behind a lot of the decision-making, and the more light and transparency we can put on this the better.”

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