ANAS SARWAR said the Scotland Office in London would promote Scottish interests more effectively if a Labour government is formed after the next general election in the UK.
The Scottish Labour leader said the office responsible for Scottish affairs would be “draped in a Saltire” in the event of Labour coming to power at Westminster.
At an event hosted by the Institute for Government think tank on Tuesday (24), Sarwar said he felt more Scottish than British and described himself as a “Glasgow nationalist”.
His statement is viewed as reflective of his attempt to reposition Labour as a patriotic choice for Scots as he seeks to unseat the SNP from power at Holyrood in 2026.
“We would fundamentally change the Scotland Office, where it would be draped in the Saltire and be Scotland’s voice across the UK, and there to be the delivery unit for Scotland to make sure every single department is delivering for Scotland.”
Now “it feels like the Scotland Office is draped in a Union Jack and is there to be the eyes and ears of the UK Government in Scotland, rather than fighting Scotland’s corner across the UK,” he said.
He asserted that a Labour victory at Westminster was crucial for the party to win a majority in the Scottish parliament.
“I don’t believe there is a route to a Scottish Labour government that doesn’t involve (Labour leader) Keir Starmer being prime minister and Labour winning the next general election. To me, it is that stepping stone.”
Sarwar also accused Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf of deviating from his “driving mission” of using tax powers to tackle poverty.
“We’re now the party of change, they’re the party of the status quo,” Sarwar said, referring to the SNP.
“We’re the party of pulling our country together. They’re the party of division.”
Labour’s victory in the by-election for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West parliamentary seat earlier this month has raised expectations the party can unseat Scottish nationalists and go on to win a UK-wide vote expected next year.
Polls showed Labour could draw level with the SNP or even win the most seats in Scotland for the first time since 2010.