Anas Sarwar speaking truth to power in Scottish Parliament


Scottish Member of Parliament Anas Sarwar has laid out an eight point plan for addressing institutionalised racism and Islamophobia within the Labour Party. The plan comes after he reported allegedly Islamophobic, racist comments from Labour council leader Davie McLachlan during his campaign for party leadership.

In November, Sarwar ran for party leadership, but was defeated by Richard Leonard. Sarwar recently uncovered that Davie McLachlan allegedly told him he refused to support Sarwar’s campaign because Scotland was not ready for a "brown, Muslim Paki.”

Sarwar, whose father Mohammad was the first Muslim MP elected in 1997, has used this opportunity to challenge racism and Islamophobia nationally, and within the Labour party.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, he said, "One of the challenges as an ethnic minority politician, as a Muslim politician, has been being honest about [racism]. In our drive to be accepted, our drive to be seen as equal or normal like everyone else, we have been shy in speaking about everyday racism and Islamophobia."

Anas remembers encountering similar racial hatred during his father’s campaign over 20 years ago, and is rightfully using his voice to raise awareness of these persistent problems, and more importantly to encourage systemic action against instances of racism and discrimination.

A party that prides itself on a history of fighting for equality, Sarwar is critical of institutional prejudice in the Labour party’s operation, including downfalls of the party’s procedure for receiving and acting upon reports of discrimination.

McLachlan was recently suspended upon public backlash for his words, but Sarwar’s eight point plan includes allowing formal complaints to be issued to the party anonymously. The entire plan, as reported by the Scottish Daily Record, is below:

1) Widen diversity of Scottish Labour’s ruling Scottish Executive Committee with at least one reserved place for ethnic minority representation.

2) Adopt an anonymous and independent system where people don’t want to make a formal complaint.

3) Equality and diversity training for all members, candidate, staff and constituency parties.

4) Affiliate BAME Labour with the Scottish party.

5) Protected place on shortlists for ethnic minority candidates, where one puts their name forward.

6) Party selection committees should have ethnic minority representation, or a specially appointed officer.

7) Better training for membership services when dealing with ethnic minorities.

8) Policy discussion on tackling racism and prejudice.

With the recent rise in boldly calling out individuals, especially those in positions of power, for their bigoted actions and/or words, Sarwar’s use of his own political platform is an example that we should all seek to follow.

Dominque Brodie