Glasgow's Anas Sarwar to stand in Scottish Labour leader race

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image captionAnas Sarwar said he wanted to rebuild Scottish Labour and then rebuild Scotland

Anas Sarwar has confirmed his bid to succeed Richard Leonard as the next Scottish Labour leader.

The Glasgow MSP used an article for the Observer online to set out his stall in the leadership race, triggered by Mr Leonard's resignation on Thursday.

The 37-year-old also tweeted to say he wanted to "to rebuild Scottish Labour, and then rebuild Scotland".

Nominations for the post will open for one day next week, with a leader declared on 27 February.

The contest is taking place just a few months ahead of the Scottish Parliament election, which is scheduled to be held on 6 May.

In his column, Mr Sarwar said he had gained a "new perspective" on politics over the past few years.

"We spend too much time highlighting our differences, rather than focusing on what unites us," he wrote.

"I firmly believe we cannot go back to society as it was before the pandemic - insecure work, hollowed-out public services, an underfunded health service, and the constant focus on another independence referendum when there's far more important things we need to be dealing with.

"Scottish Labour can compete again if we offer a positive alternative - a plan to heal our wounds, to reunite our people and to rebuild our country."

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On Saturday, the party's executive agreed to a condensed timescale for any contest with the Holyrood elections less than four months away.

The last Scottish Labour leadership contest in 2017 - when Mr Leonard defeated Mr Sarwar - took two-and-a-half months.

Other candidates have until midnight on Sunday to declare their intention to run and will require support from at least four of the party's MSPs or its sole Scottish MP by midday on the following Tuesday to be formally nominated.

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image captionRichard Leonard resigned as Labour's Scottish leader on Thursday

In declaring his intention to run for the leadership, Mr Sarwar also discussed facing racism and fighting prejudice.

He said: "Speaking out against the racism I've faced was the hardest thing I've done in politics. My family faced death threats as a result.

"But I've used that experience to spend my time in our communities working on what unites us and bringing people together - I have listened and I have learnt.

"I want to bring that same approach to our Labour movement so that we can rebuild our party and rebuild our country."

After news broke of Mr Leonard's resignation, Mr Sarwar paid tribute to his former boss, saying: "Richard has led our party through one of the most difficult times in our history.

"He is Labour to his core, and we are all grateful for his service.

"I know he will continue to fight for a fairer, more just and more equal society today, tomorrow and long into the future."

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