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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rebecca McCurdy

Sarwar compares Yousaf to Sturgeon and ‘Greens extremism’ ahead of agenda

PA Wire

Humza Yousaf’s Programme for Government “lacks ideas”, according to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, as he accused the First Minister of falling into “Green extremism” and policies which emulate his predecessor.

The First Minister will use his first legislative programme to set out a package of childcare measures to tackle poverty on Tuesday.

It includes support for breakfast and after-school clubs and potential further expansion of free childcare.

But Scottish Labour leader Mr Sarwar launched a scathing attack on Mr Yousaf’s leadership ahead of the announcement as he said the “continuity candidate” is using policies which are similar to former first minister Nicola Sturgeon in his plan because he does not have his own “central vision” for government.

And he said the Scottish Greens partnership – known as the Bute House Agreement – is heavily influencing the programme.

Speaking to the PA news agency in Rutherglen on Tuesday morning, Mr Sarwar said: “I think he (Mr Yousaf) is trying to do Greens-style extremism, whilst also trying to do Nicola Sturgeon-style social policy, whilst also trying to do Alex Salmond-style economic policy.

“All three of which are inconsistent. I think it shows a leader that has no central purpose, no clear idea, no ultimate vision for the country, and he’s looking around for individual ideas to try and pass time to try and solidify his own leadership.

“I think it’s clear the SNP has lost its way, they can’t run away from the fact that they have a record of failure.”

He added: “Humza Yousaf, who is the continuity candidate, can’t run away from it, and I think all of this goes to prove that this country needs change. This isn’t as good as it gets.

“I think it’s abundantly clear that he lacks as central vision, that he lacks a central mission, and his government doesn’t have any clear direction.

I think it’s clear for everyone to see that this is a downgrade and (he’s) a perfectly nice guy, but he’s not up to the job
— Anas Sarwar

“And instead, you have individual bits of policy – some of which I think are well meaning and we would support – but it lacks a coherent plan of how we’re going to take Scotland forward.

“I think it’s clear for everyone to see that this is a downgrade and (he’s) a perfectly nice guy, but he’s not up to the job.”

Ahead of his speech in Holyrood, Mr Yousaf addressed the financial constraints facing the Scottish Government as he looks to set out his priorities for the year ahead.

It comes in the background of struggling public finances, with a £1 billion black hole expected in next year’s budget.

He told journalists during a visit to a school in Dundee on Monday: “There’ll definitely be some initiatives that I hope will demonstrate the direction I want to take the Government, but there’s no getting away from the scale of the public finances and the challenge that we face in relation to those public finances.

“It’s the most difficult time, certainly I’ve ever seen for the public finances, and I’ve been in Government for 11 years.

“We know because of the disaster if the mini budget last year from the UK Government that public finances are not just going to be constrained for the year ahead, but I’m afraid for probably many years to come.”

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