THE LEADER of Scottish Labour has vowed to build a political campaign of unity rather than take an “us v them” approach.

Anas Sarwar said his party had to present a “more positive vision of Scotland and Britain” in his speech to the Labour conference this evening.

The MSP also said that Scotland was the “first red wall to fall” and emphasised the need for the party to win back Scottish voters in order to secure power in Westminster.

He said it was not enough for his party to oppose both the SNP and the Tories, and instead they were seeking to replace them.

He explained: “While the SNP revel in an ‘us v them’ politics in Scotland, across the UK we also have an ‘us v them’ Tory Government. A government with one rule for them, another for everyone else.

“Taking £20 away from the poorest families in the UK, while handing millions of pound deals to their friends.

“And we cannot defeat the ‘us vs them’ politics with our own version of ‘us vs them’. Instead we’ve got to build a campaign that is about all of us.”

Earlier today, Mr Sarwar was asked about deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner's comments when she referred to the Tories as "scum", and said he would not have used the same phrase.

He said: "I wouldn’t have used the words that she has used, but I think we have got to recognise that we have got a divisive Government that wants to pit Brit versus Brit, or Scot versus Scot or English person versus English person.

“I don’t think the Labour Party should have any truck for that and the challenge I make to my colleagues is don’t think that by creating our own version of an us versus them, that pits half the country against the other half of the country, is the route to electoral success for the Labour Party."

“It’s the wrong thing to do and it also won’t win us an election"

In his conference speech, Mr Sarwar attacked the SNP directly, saying the party was “not progressive and they are not our allies”.

He continued: “Trade unionists in their workplaces, activists in their communities, every person in this hall…We already have a progressive alliance - it is called the Labour Party.

“And let’s judge the SNP on their record. Attainment gap - widening. Child poverty - growing. Waiting times - getting longer. And the heartbreaking scandal of the highest drugs death rate in Europe.

“A progressive party would roll up its sleeves. Instead, the SNP blame Westminster, and carrying on campaigning for the only thing that matters to them - independence.”

His comments mirror remarks by his deputy, Jackie Baillie, who was speaking at a fringe event at the conference on Sunday.

READ MORE: Labour party has 'no path' to power which does not flow through Scotland

Mr Sarwar formally confirmed his call to the Scottish Government to raise the winter fuel payment by £70, to address the soaring price of energy and the concerns that the poorest in society will have to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table this winter.

He also announced the launch of an Energy Transition Commission, to be led by former minister Brian Wilson, which will “help create a greener, fairer and more prosperous future.”

He explained: “In November, the eyes of the world will be on my home city of Glasgow for COP 26. “We want the world to see a country united in the fight against climate change.

“But as Labour, we must be clear - There is no just transition if it decimates entire communities and sacrifices tens of thousands of jobs.

“We can’t allow a repeat of the end of mining, where communities were hollowed out, workers were stripped of their dignity and our industrial base was destroyed. “

He said that the energy sector had to be reformed, to “meet the challenges ahead” in terms of climate change, but said that action had to be taken now too.

Mr Sarwar continued: “In Scotland, 150,000 pensioners live in poverty. The Scottish Parliament has the power to increase winter fuel payments for those pensioners.

“Rather than hand that power back to a Tory government, we should use it to increase payments by £70 to the lowest income pensioners to help them in the winter months.”

He said he and Ms Baillie, along with shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray, were “working day and night to give the people of Scotland the Labour party they deserve”.

He added: “Despite what Nicola Sturgeon and the Tories want us to believe, Boris isn’t Britain. Our vaccinators, our NHS staff, our social care staff, our postal workers, our retail workers, our key workers and all who pulled us through this pandemic - they are Britain.”

Mr Sarwar said that the SNP and the Tories should not be allowed to “define Englishness” and said: 

“England isn’t Jacob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel and Nigel Farage.

“England is Marcus Rashford, Gareth Southgate and Emma Raducanu.

“And don’t believe that the political values of Scotland are those of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP - of division and grievance.

“The values which drive Scotland - Hope, opportunity, solidarity. Our values. Labour values.”