Johann Lamont, the new Scottish Labour Party Leader wasted no time in appointing her shadow cabinet.
Meeting for the first time in this week leading to Christmas, the Shadow Cabinet sorted out their portfolios.
A mix of experienced former ministers and newer voices ‘to speak on the important issue for Scotland,’ the Leader said: ‘Our job will not just be to hold the Scottish Government to account, but to show our party’s ambition again. Together we must set out and convince the people of Scotland of Labour’s vision for our country. Ours is a positive vision for a prosperous Scotland that can pay its own way, a wealth-creating Scotland that uses its wealth to build a fairer country, a Scotland determined that not one person’s talent is wasted, a Scotland that challenges all Scots to be all that they can be, and which creates the conditions in which we can reach our aspirations.’
Flanked by her deputy, Anas Sarwar and Margaret Curran, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, the Pollok MSP’s team is:
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth – Ken Macintosh
Shadow Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism – Rhoda Grant
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy – Jackie Baillie
Shadow Minister for Public Health – Richard Simpson
Shadow Minister for Social Justice – Drew Smith
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning – Hugh Henry
Shadow Minister for Children and Young People – Neil Bibby
Shadow Minister for Learning and Skills – Neil Findlay
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture, External Affairs and the Commonwealth Games – Patricia Ferguson
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment – Richard Baker
Shadow Minister for Housing and Transport – Elaine Murray
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice – Lewis Macdonald
Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs – Jenny Marra
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Planning – Sarah Boyack
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment – Claire Baker
Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change – Claudia Beamish
Shadow Minister for Youth Employment (attending shadow cabinet and working with education and finance teams) – Kezia Dugdale
Scottish Labour Parliamentary Business Manager – Paul Martin
Chief Whip – James Kelly
Shadow Whip – John Pentland
In addition, Johann Lamont has asked Tom Harris MP to review how Scottish Labour uses technology to campaign. He will report to the deputy leader Anas Sarwar. Mr Harris will also work with Shadow Cabinet Secretary Richard Baker to advise on capital investment and infrastructure.
In making her final announcements to complete her team Johann Lamont said: ‘Scottish Labour has an excellent set of newly-elected MSPs and I am very pleased to have appointed eight of them to front bench roles. Together, over the coming months, we will be working hard to change Scottish Labour.’
In the new year she intends to make further shadow cabinet appointments from beyond the world of politics.
Westminster MP Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central) is the latest to bid for Labour Party leadership in Scotland. He’s set his sights on the deputy leader post and joins Westminster senior colleague Tom Harris (Glasgow South) and MSPs Johann Lamont (Pollok) and Ken Mackintosh (Eastwood) who had earlier declared their interest in being leader.
Sarwar, who has been a constant supporter of the Glasgow inspired campaign for human rights in the Gambia, put his hat into the ring this weekend in time for the Labour Party conference in Liverpool (Sat 24/Sun 25 September) when the Scottish rule changes will be debated. He said: ‘I want to work with the Party leader to make sure we are an electable force again, working for the whole of Scotland.’ He pledged to travel throughout the whole of Scotland to listen to people ‘from all walks of life’. He said the vision had to be one of confidence in the future of Scotland. With ‘honest analysis’ of where Labour is in Scotland and what its message is and how it project it, he said: ‘I want to make sure we are an electable force again, working for the whole of Scotland.’
Labour Party rule changes allowed Westminster MP Tom Harris to declare his interest in the campaign which had previously been restricted to MSPs. Aiming to replace present Scottish Labour Party leader Iain Gray - who sought refuge in a sandwich shop when confronted with pensioners asking him to challenge the Tory tax cuts – Tom Harris was clear about his strategy. ‘We need to appeal to people beyond the Labour Party. The battle to win votes will be won in the workplace, the high street, the tv studio, the council chamber, the board room and in the home, not just in a single debating chamber. As a Party we need to have a strong vision and a positive outlook to appeal to new voters.’ A constant Twitter contributor, has already taken his campaign out and is meeting groups of young people unconnected with politics, who use the social media networks he is already familiar with.
At Holyrood, Johann Lamont has been a noteable fighter for the Labour Party cause. And locally in Pollok, she has been an active elected representative. She said: ‘First, we have to re-build confidence and trust across Scotland. It can’t be a case of Labour telling others what to do. It has to be Labour listening. These are tough times and there are lots of challenges. We have to pull together and we need a strong Labour voice to protect the young and the vulnerable and to hold the Government to account.’
Ken MacIntosh was born in Inverness of a Gaelic speaking father from Skye and a mother from Peebles in the Borders. Early in September he led a campaign against a waste incinerator in Newton Mearns.
He said a new, positive, vision for a strong Scotland is needed. ‘Devolution is the reason I got into politics. I believe the Scottish Parliament is there to build a stronger Scotland, but our Party needs to do more to harness the potential of devolution to improve the lives of the Scottish people – this is my priority if elected leader.’
He added: ‘It’s time to change the Scottish Labour Party. We need to be less top-down, have a strong positive vision and we must use the new young talent we now have. This contest is not just about leading the Scottish Labour Party. I want to win the hearts and minds of Scots to win the next election and become the next First Minister.’
A special Scottish Labour Party conference will be held on 29 October when the formal campaigns will be launched. The new Leader of the Scottish Labour Party will be announced by 17 December.
A jobs scheme that was scheduled for the chop has been given an extension following political pressure on the Westminster Coalition government by Glasgow Central MP, Anas Sarwar.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Ian Duncan Smith, planned to scrap Glasgow’s Employment Zones on 31 December last year – at least six months before the replacement Work Programme was scheduled to be up and running.
The Employment Zones scheme offers specialist support to long-term unemployed and lone parents in employment blackspots. Following pressure in Parliament, the government has extended it to June 2011.
MP Sarwar quizzed the Secretary of State in the House of Commons twice in November and tabled a question in December.
He said: ‘The Minister was ready to write off Glasgow’s jobless by withdrawing help six months before his new Work Programme was to be ready.
‘I refuse to allow the Tories to consign another generation of Glaswegians to the scrapheap, just like they did in the 1980s under Thatcher.
‘I’m pleased that Ian Duncan Smith has now seen sense and performed a U-turn, but I simply can’t understand why he even considered axing support six months before his Work Programme was ready – our city deserves better.’
Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment at the Department of Work and Pensions, said in the House of Commons: ‘We are determined to ensure that there is continuity of provision, and that the transition to the Work Programme does not leave any customer unsupported.
‘Therefore, Employment Zone contracts will be extended until June 2011, ensuring that customers referred to these programmes in March will be supported until the summer, by which time the Work Programme will have been rolled out.’
Reed in Parnership are one of the key agencies that deliver employment and skills sevices in Glasgow.
‘Over 5000 people in Glasgow have been claiming JobSeekers Allowance for over a year and the DWP decision to extend the contracts means unemployed people in the city will continue to receive the support they need to find employment.’
MPs in Westminster and Holyrood are fighting for human rights in the Gambia. The tiny West African country is known for the sunshine holidays it offers UK citizens
. But it has recently activated the death penalty and is the subject of a report from Amnesty International which says abuses include arbitrary arrests, torture, incommunicado detention, unfair trials, rape, disappearance and extra-judicial executions.
In the House of Commons, Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar’s Early Day Motion has attracted at least 24 cross-party signators. It calls on the coalition Government to place international pressure on the Gambian government to uphold fundamental human rights.
The motion applauds members of the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia for continuing to raise awareness of the issue. Said Labour MP Sarwar, who sits on the Commons International Development Select Committee: ‘I was pleased to facilitate a meeting with the Foreign Office, the all -Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights and representatives of the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia.
‘That Campaign is doing great work to draw attention to a government that rules by intimidation, torture and killing. It is crucial that the Coalition Government does everything it can to place international pressure on the Gambian government. I have asked questions about challenges facing Gambian citizens in their country and abroad and I will continue to press the coalition government.’
In Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament passed a motion condemning the catalogue of human rights abuses in Gambia. Proposed by Green Party MSP, Patrick Harvie and supported by more than a dozen others from all parties, it highlighted the case of missing journalist Ebrima Manneh who disappeared after allegedly attempting to publish an article criticising the Gambian Government for violations of human rights.
Expressing support of Gambians who are resident in Scotland but who might feel unable to speak out about the situation in their country for fear of the consequences, the motion urges the UK and Scottish Governments to ensure that international pressure is put on the Gambian Government in defence of human rights. For further information check website: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Apps2/business/motions/Default.aspx?motionid=20216
In a whirlwind day in London, representatives of the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia made ‘useful progress’, according to Vice Chair Austin Sheridan.
Through Westminster MP Anas Sarwar, who has kept his pre-election promise to support the Campaign, Austin Sheridan, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) and committee members Alieu Ceesay and Grace Franklin met with Parliamentary coordinator for Human Rights, Nicole Piche, Paul Welch who is team leader for the West Africa desk and Agnes Annels from the Foreign Commonwealth Office Human Rights department.
The Campaign updated the officials on their events, past and future, to tell people in Scotland about the increasing number of Gambians ‘disappearing’ in the Gambia, or who are imprisoned and tortured because they say something which offends the President.
They include journalists, opposition party leaders and many ordinary citizens.
The Scottish Campaign is backed by the National Union of Journalists and Amnesty International which has published a report on the situation in the West Africa country which is a popular holiday destination.
A further meeting in the offices of Amnesty International enabled the Scottish Campaign to see where their work fitted into the 17 cities around the world which are also active in pressing for Human Rights to be restored in the Gambia. Until recently, Gambia had a Constitution and a Legislature which protected its citizens. But increasingly draconian laws and edicts from the President’s Palace – including the activating of the death penalty this month – have brought fear to the nation. The legal system has been corrupted with mercenary judges from Nigeria hired by the President to impose his will.
Currently the President Yahya Jammeh, is encouraging hereditary Chiefs to campaign for him to be made King of Gambia.
The Scottish Campaign’s next public meeting will be in Edinburgh on Thursday 16 December at the Justice and Peace Centre and hosted by that organisation.
In the Scottish Parliament, Patrick Harvie MSP has put forward a motion condemning the catalogue of human rights abuses in Gambia including the case of the missing journalist Ebrima Manneh and urges government pressure to be put on the Gambian Government in defence of human rights. By Thursday 18 November, fifteen MSPs had signed the motion.
Words by Stuart Maxwell
In anticipation of World Food Day, Labour MP Anas Sarwar tucked into a portion of ‘liknui phala’- the porridge meal that Scottish charity Mary’s Meals delivers to over 400,000 impoverished children around the world, every day!
Anas scrapped the dish with vigour and it can’t have done him any harm. Liknui Phala is made from maize flour, beans, milk powder, vitamins, minerals and a dollop of sugar and is designed by nutritionists to combat chronic undernourishment.
Wiping his chin, Anas said: ‘By giving thousands of children in developing countries a great start to their day, Mary’s Meals is offering them a great start in life. I’m delighted to mark the fantastic work that Mary’s Meals does.’ Although he cleary wanted too, the Glasgow Central politician was too polite to ask for more!
World Food Day is just around the corner on Saturday 16 October – the day in 1945, when the UN founded the Food and Agriculture Organization. The aim is to further global solidarity in the fight against hunger and poverty.
Mary’s Meals is now an international charity that strives to feed and educate inpoverished children across the globe.
Want to help or know more? Visit: www.marysmeals.org
A campaign to highlight human rights abuse in the sunshine West African country of the Gambia was launched last night in Glasgow.
Backed by Westminster MP Anas Sarwar and the President of the National Union of Journalists( NUJ) Pete Murray, the new group will bring the issues to a wider audience.
‘I didn’t know about people disappearing, being tortured and murdered in the Gambia till I heard details at a vigil two years ago,’ said Austin Sheridan a 17-year-old, elected member of the Scottish Youth Parliament. He has brought the situation and an Amnesty International report ‘Gambia: Fear Rules’ to the attention of that Parliament’s International Committee.
Anas Sarwar, MP for Central Glasgow, said when he was campaigning to be elected, he had attended the same vigil and met an exiled Gambian journalist. ‘I promised him then, that if I was elected I would do all I could to highlight the human rights issues in the Gambia. I am keeping that promise,’ he told the meeting in the STUC.
He went on to offer the NUJ the opportunity to hold a meeting at the House of Commons to inform even more people.
NUJ national president Pete Murray, said his union was proud to support the campaign. ‘Not just because journalists are affected by the abuse of human rights but because they are being detained and tortured simply for doing their job and are being forced to flee their country and seek asylum here.’ He outlined the NUJ’s campaign to persuade the UK government to allow asylum seekers the right to work and the right to stay.
. ‘Hundreds of people are incarcarated,’ he said, ‘Not just journalists.’ He said the new Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia would press for an end to human rights violations in his country and for those responsible for such violations, to be brought to justice in fair trials.
Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar has welcomed new figures which show that the city is one of the most popular urban destinations in the UK.
A Visit Britain analysis of overnight stays by overseas visitors in UK cities between 2006 and 2009 showed that Glasgow, which was described as Scotland’s style capital, was the fifth most popular destination with 687,000 visits.
For purely holiday trips, Glasgow also makes it into the top five with 312,000 visits.
Anas Sarwar said: ‘I welcome these figures from Visit Britain which confirm Glasgow’s popularity among tourists. Over the last 13 years Glasgow has transformed from its inward-looking, post-industrial slump, to an outward-looking, economically regenerated city which is brimming with confidence.
‘Glaswegians know that our city is on the up and, judging by the number of tourists that are visiting, the rest of the world knows too.’
The Glasgow Central seat will be one of the most closely-watched contests in Scotland, if not the UK. It is a key constituency for Labour and SNP. Held by Labour’s Mohammad Sarwar since 1997, it covers a diverse mixture of communities from Toryglen on the South side to Finnieston across the river.
Mohammad has passed the torch to his son Anas, who will be in fierce competition with Osama Saeed of the Scottish National Party (SNP). Both are young, Scots-born Asians, eager to make their name in politics.
Anas Sarwar is a dentist by profession and has been a Labour Party member since the age of 16. ‘Housing is the most important issue over the whole area,’ he told the LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW. ‘Whether it is the condition of houses or the lack of social housing.’
He’s clear that the choice for voters is either Gordon Brown or David Cameron. ‘The Scottish seats matter, especially if there is a hung Parliament.’
Osama Saeed was Executive of the Scottish Islamic Foundation and a former Westminster employee of SNP leader Alex Salmond. ‘For decades Glasgow has been let down by Labour MPs and Labour politicians. I think people in the city are listening to the SNP. We are running Labour 50-50 and heading towards independence which will happen because of Glasgow rather than in spite of it.’ He added: ‘Parliament has to reflect the diversity of society. I’m standing to represent the people of Glasgow regardless of my faith or background.’
Others expected to contest Glasgow Central include: John Bradley – Conservative, Chris Young – Lib Dem, Alistair Whitelaw – Green, and James Nesbitt – SSP.
By Martin Graham
Youth Community Services Association and radio station Awaz FM held a pre-election information evening on Wednesday, 10 February at Pollokshields Burgh Hall to give people the chance to question political candidates about their manifestos and policies.
On the podium were Osama Saeed, the SNP’s candidate for Glasgow Central; Shabnum Mustapha, Lib Dem candidate for Glasgow South; Anas Sarwar, Labour candidate for Glasgow Central, and Richard Cook, the Conservative candidate for East Renfrewshire.
Each speaker gave a brief introduction and then the debate was opened up to questions from the floor.
It was interesting to see how Labour’s Anas Sarwar and Tory Richard Cook supported each other, with Mr Sarwar even defending Conservative leader David Cameron at one point.
They seemed united against Mr Saeed and the SNP. Despite the much vaunted ‘two-horse race’, it would appear from the candidates’ performance that there is very little difference between the Labour and Conservative parties.
When asked what they had done personally for their communities, Mr Cook said that he had helped clear snow from the driveways of older people, and sought to develop community leaders.
Mr Sarwar said that he had campaigned against gang masters in Govanhill exploiting workers, and had sought to restore flights from Scotland to Pakistan.
Ms Mustapha said that she has helped with the Save Pollok Park campaign and also campaigned to save a post office in North Glasgow.
Mr Saeed said that he had been holding local surgeries to hear people’s concerns and had organised anti-war protests.
On the subject of auctioning lunches at the Scottish Parliament, it was pointed out that David Cameron had done the same thing at Westminster. Mr Cook said that it was unacceptable to use Parliament for this purpose.
Mr Sarwar pointed out that Mr Cameron had apologised for his lunch scandal, but Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond had not apologised for his.
Ms Mustapha stated that access to Parliament is not freely available, and that it should be treated with respect.
Mr Sarwar was asked about his father’s expenses history and his attendance record at Westminster, but he declined to answer questions about Mohammed Sarwar.
One audience member asked the panel if they would support restricting homosexuality to limit the spread of AIDS and HIV. Every panel member rejected the suggestion.