Sarwar calls for action on inequality

PEOPLE cannot afford to wait until after the 2014 independence referendum for action to tackle inequality, says Scottish Labour's deputy leader.

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Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar claimed the Scottish Government was focused on the constitutional ballot and only offered people "sticking plasters" for the problems they are facing.

He raised the issue in a speech on equality and fairness in Gorbals Church, Glasgow, where he also said Labour had to set out its own vision for Scotland.

Mr Sarwar, who is to lead Labour's campaign for a No vote, told the audience at the moment "sadly the only change on offer is how you vote in the referendum ballot paper at the end of October next year, if that's when it is."

He said: "That's not the only change that should be on offer. People can't afford to wait.

"We still face huge challenges in our country. I don't think it's acceptable we ignore the inequalities that are happening today because the only change on offer is a constitutional one."

He said in Scotland, "some have become trapped in the belief that change only means constitutional change".

He highlighted health and education as two areas where he claimed the SNP was failing to deliver, raising problems with poor life expectancy and lower levels of educational achievement in the poorest parts of the country.

Scotland has free personal care for the elderly, but Mr Sarwar said: "50% of people in parts of my constituency won't even live long enough to get free personal care."

But the SNP's Annabelle Ewing, a member of Holyrood's Welfare Reform Committee, said: "Mr Sarwar's comments come after the 13 years of the last Labour Government, during which inequality in the UK actually increased.

"The Westminster system has had every opportunity under all kinds of government to tackle poverty, and has failed Scotland."

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