SCOTTISH Labour leader Anas Sarwar has made "an open and big offer" to work with the SNP Government.

In a speech broadcast online, Mr Sarwar also accused the Conservatives of pushing voters into the hands of the SNP. 

He insisted Scottish Labour is "well and truly back on the pitch" despite the party losing two MSPs.

Mr Sarwar made the comments following the Holyrood election, which saw the SNP narrowly miss out an overall majority.

It won 64 seats (up one), the Conservatives 31 (no change), Labour 22 (down two), the Greens eight (up two) and the Liberal Democrats four (down one).

Mr Sarwar said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had promised a "relentless focus" on the coronavirus recovery.

He said: "We are going to hold her to that promise.

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"You cannot attempt to lead half the country through a campaign but also deliver a recovery that works for everyone. That is simply not credible.

"So I am making an open offer, and a big offer, to all political parties across Scotland, but in particular an open and big offer to the SNP.

"Yes, we will disagree on the issue of the constitution, but we cannot allow that one issue that we disagree on to paralyse our politics and stop us making positive progress together."

He said Labour will work with others to build a recovery and a "stronger, fairer, greener nation". 

Mr Sarwar said he wanted to "push the Scottish Government and Nicola Sturgeon further". 

He pointed to the looming economic crisis, the impact of the pandemic on childrens' education and problems in the health service, as well as issues such as child poverty and the climate emergency.

He called for "the biggest, boldest, most ambitious job creation scheme in the history of our parliament", as well as "mass interventions into our economy".

Mr Sarwar said he wanted Scotland to build "once again, the greatest education system anywhere in the world".

Addressing the Tories, he said: "Your campaign actually pushed people into the hands of the SNP.

"Your direct choice to make this election campaign a straight dividing line between Yes and No didn't help to reunite our country – it has only helped to further divide it."

He insisted he was "not willing to fall for that divide".

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Mr Sarwar said voters had sent a clear message to Scotland's political parties to "focus on the recovery, not a referendum".

He said Scotland's future is "not a game" and decisions over the coming months and years will "shape the kind of country we are for a generation". 

He said Labour is building a "credible alternative" to the SNP.