|Leader of the Scottish Labour Party|
|Assumed office |
27 February 2021
|UK party leader||Keir Starmer|
|Preceded by||Richard Leonard|
24 October 2014 – 13 December 2014
|UK party leader||Ed Miliband|
|Preceded by||Johann Lamont|
|Succeeded by||Jim Murphy|
|Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party|
17 December 2011 – 13 December 2014
|Preceded by||Johann Lamont|
|Succeeded by||Kezia Dugdale|
|Shadow Minister for International Development|
5 November 2014 – 8 May 2015
|Preceded by||Alison McGovern|
|Succeeded by||Mike Kane|
|Scottish Labour frontbench roles|
|2020–2021||Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution|
|2016–2018||Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport|
|Born||14 March 1983|
|Relatives||Mohammad Sarwar (father)|
|Alma mater||University of Glasgow|
Anas Sarwar (born 14 March 1983) is a Scottish politician who has served as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party since 2021. He has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Glasgow region since 2016, having been Member of Parliament (MP) for Glasgow Central from 2010 to 2015. Ideologically, he identifies as a Brownite.
Born in Glasgow to Pakistani Muslim parents, Sarwar was educated at the independent Hutchesons' Grammar School and studied general dentistry at the University of Glasgow. He worked in Paisley as a dentist until being elected as Member of Parliament for Glasgow Central at the 2010 general election when he succeeded his retiring father, Mohammad Sarwar. During his time in the House of Commons, he served as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party from 2011 to 2014.
Sarwar lost his seat to the Scottish National Party (SNP) at the 2015 general election. After leaving Westminster, he was elected at the 2016 Scottish Parliament election on the Glasgow regional list. Having been defeated in the 2017 Scottish Labour leadership election by Richard Leonard, he was elected as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party in the 2021 leadership election. Sarwar led Scottish Labour into the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, which saw Scottish Labour return to opposition with two fewer Labour MSPs than at the previous election. He was defeated by incumbent First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow Southside but was returned on the Glasgow regional list.
Early life and career
Sarwar was born on 14 March 1983 in Glasgow to Perveen and Mohammad Sarwar, both Pakistani Muslims. He is the youngest of four children and was educated at Hutchesons' Grammar School, an independent school in Glasgow. He graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in general dentistry in 2005, becoming an NHS general dentist in Paisley until 2010 when he was elected as an MP. Sarwar became a member of Scottish Labour at the age of 16 and was an executive member of Scottish Young Labour. He later joined the Co-operative Party, Fabian Society, trade unions Unite and Community and pressure group Progress, of which he served as a vice-chair.
2007 Scottish Parliament election
For the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, Sarwar was selected to stand as the number one regional list candidate for the Glasgow region. He was a member of Labour's Scottish Policy Forum which was responsible for drawing-up the Scottish Labour Party manifesto for that election. His attempt to enter Holyrood failed at the election when Labour lost control of the Scottish Parliament for the first time.
Member of Parliament: 2010–2015
Sarwar was elected at the 2010 general election as MP for Glasgow Central, succeeding his father Mohammad Sarwar; who was the first-ever Muslim MP in the UK and increasing the previously held majority. He was elected by colleagues to serve on the International Development Select Committee. His parliamentary interests included foreign policy and international development, with specific areas of concern being Palestine and Kashmir. He was also co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on anti-corruption and was a member of the Welfare Reform Bill Committee. In January 2013, Sarwar was awarded the Politician of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards.
In 2013, Sarwar took a strong line in attacking both the "Bedroom Tax" and the Scottish Government for its failure to mitigate its worst effects. During a vote on its repeal, Sarwar was in Pakistan, giving a speech to students at Hajvery University, and so was paired off with a Conservative MP, cancelling out the two votes. He was criticised for his absence by the SNP.
In 2014, Sarwar came under criticism for choosing to send his son to Hutchesons' Grammar School, an independent school and the same school that he himself attended, rather than a state school. MSP John Wilson stated: "Anas Sarwar once again highlights the hypocrisy of the Labour Party – talking of social justice and defending public services while sending his own child to a private school."
From 5 November 2014 until 8 May 2015, Sarwar was Labour's Shadow Minister for International Development. In January 2015, he was awarded the Spirit of Britain award at that year's British Muslim Awards. At the 2015 general election, he lost his Glasgow Central seat to Alison Thewliss of the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party: 2011–2014
In December 2011, Sarwar was elected Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party receiving 51.10% of the vote. In 2012, he was appointed to co-ordinate Scottish Labour's 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign. The campaign, alongside Better Together, was ultimately successful, with Scotland voting 55% to 45% to remain in the United Kingdom. However, Scottish Labour were all but wiped out in an SNP landslide victory at the 2015 general election. Following the resignation of Johann Lamont on 25 October 2014, Sarwar became acting leader until a new leader was elected. On 30 October, he resigned as deputy leader at a Labour Party dinner in Glasgow.
Early tenure as Member of the Scottish Parliament: 2016–2021
Sarwar was elected as an additional member in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election for the Glasgow region. In 2016, he was made Scottish Labour Spokesperson for Health and Sport. In September 2017, he announced he would run for the Scottish Labour leadership following the resignation of Kezia Dugdale. He eventually lost to his opponent, Richard Leonard. On 4 October 2018, he was sacked from his position as Health and Sport Spokesperson, stating he had only learnt of the sacking on Twitter.
During the 2017 leadership election, Rutherglen councillor Davie McLachlan allegedly said "Scotland wouldn't vote for a brown Muslim Paki". In April 2019, Sarwar's case against McLachlan was due to be heard by the National Constitutional Committee but was dropped on a technicality, as Sarwar had not given his case within a narrow timescale which had been given out at short notice. Richard Leonard acknowledged the process was flawed and the committee would need to be reformed to avoid similar incidents.
In November 2019, Sarwar was given access to a leaked report from 2015 which had considered infection controls at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to be at "high risk". 10-year-old patient Milly Main died in the hospital in 2017 from a water infection, while she was there to recover from leukaemia. Sarwar raised the leaked report's findings in a Scottish Parliament debate in which he criticised NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for not closing certain hospital wards despite the report's findings. He requested on behalf on Main's mother, a constituent of his, a response from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
In November 2020, Sarwar was made Scottish Labour Spokesperson for the Constitution.
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party: 2021–present
Following the resignation of Richard Leonard in 2021, Sarwar was elected as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, winning 57.56% of the vote. Sarwar and some in the media suggested this made him the first ethnic minority person to lead a major UK political party, although The Spectator pointed to political leaders of Jewish descent such as Benjamin Disraeli, Michael Howard and Ed Miliband while acknowledging he was the first Muslim and person of Asian descent.
Sarwar led Scottish Labour into the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, which saw the worst result for Scottish Labour since devolution, with two fewer Labour MSPs returned than at the previous election. Although he was defeated by incumbent First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow Southside, he was reelected as a list MSP for the Glasgow region.
Described as being on the political right of the Labour Party, Sarwar identifies as a Brownite and has been critical of both Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn. He says former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is one of his political heroes. As for Blair, Sarwar has been heavily critical of the Iraq War, calling it "the worst foreign policy decision in my lifetime".
As the leader of Scottish Labour in 2021 Scottish Parliament election, Sarwar pledged to reduce poverty and inequality in Scotland as part of his policy solutions to the aftermath of COVID-19 crisis. However, Sarwar was criticised by opponents during 2017 Scottish Labour leadership election after it emerged that his family firm was advertising job vacancies with pay below the recommended living wage, calling into question the sincerity of his commitments to issues of poverty.
Sarwar is married to Furheen, who works as an NHS dentist, and the couple have three young children. He is a Muslim. He owns a quarter share of his family's cash-and-carry wholesale business; his share was valued in 2016 as worth between £2.7 million and £4.8 million. In September 2017, Sarwar transferred his shareholding to a discretionary trust for the benefit of his three young children, so that he could not personally access the assets or dividends.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anas Sarwar.|
- Official website
- Scottish Parliament profiles of MSPs: Anas Sarwar
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Video interview after winning his seat in 2010 Archived 5 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine at Catch21
- Son could replace retiring MP Sarwar, The Herald, 23 June 2007
- Election shows politics runs in the family, The Herald, 1 May 2007