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Anas Sarwar says Nicola Sturgeon’s pandemic plan ‘a little late’

Anas Sarwar Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon, campaigning in Aberdeenshire, has been criticised by Anas Sarwar over her plan for a cross-party group on Covid recovery.

The timing of Nicola Sturgeon’s election pledge to set up a cross-party group on Covid recovery has been criticised by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

Mr Sarwar said it shows a late attempt to tackle big issues away from the constitution.

Both politicians were campaigning in the north-east on Thursday with one week to go until the Scottish Parliament election.

Ms Sturgeon timed her visit to a top target seat with the publication of a plan for her first 100 days in a re-elected SNP government.

It included the “first task” to keep the virus under control and get Scotland as close to normal as possible.

Ms Sturgeon wants to establish a cross-party steering group on Covid recovery and a standing committee on pandemics, which would include scientists and clinicians.

‘Message cutting through’

Mr Sarwar said: “We are one week from polling day and Nicola Sturgeon is promising a cross-party group to look at the recovery.

Making his point: Anas Sarwar on the campaign trail.

“You know why that is? It’s because our message is cutting through. It’s because she knows there is a desire out there for people to move on from the old divisions and the old arguments.

“I think, perhaps, she’s a little late. After 14 years of being in government, seven as First Minister, she wants to put division at the heart of the next parliament, as does Douglas Ross.”

Despite the criticism, Mr Sarwar said the best of Holyrood had been shown at times during the pandemic.

He said: “My approach was to support the government when they were getting it right.”

Nicola Sturgeon with Aberdeenshire West candidate Fergus Mutch in Insch.

Publishing the 100-day promise in the Aberdeenshire West constituency, Ms Sturgeon said: “We will also start work on longer-term challenges, establishing a new Council for Economic Transformation, taking the first steps toward establishing a National Care Service and beginning work on a Minimum Income Guarantee.

“Of course, with the full powers of an independent country we could do so much more and Scotland would no longer be subject to a Westminster government taking our country in the wrong direction.

“The SNP is ready to get down to work immediately, to tackle the major challenges we face as a country.”

‘Out of date’

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said Ms Sturgeon’s 100-day package of promises is a “con trick” that will end in calls for a referendum.

He said: “If they win a majority, Nicola Sturgeon will claim a mandate for indyref2 by Monday. They’ll have demanded a Section 30 Order and started work on a new White Paper within weeks.

Scottish independence: Who needs a section 30 order, anyway?

“Statement after statement will demand a referendum date before Scotland’s recovery from Covid.”

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael MP said: “The SNP promise on cancer treatment was one they made last Christmas. Their childcare promise was supposed to have been done by last summer.

“The promises are out of date and just advertise how the SNP have broken their promises and are dashing for an independence referendum.”

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