Calls for Sarwar to apologise after leading charity misrepresented


  By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar has been publicly pulled up for misrepresenting the stance of the respected Joseph Rowntree Foundation when it comes to tackling child poverty in Scotland.
During a debate organised by 5 Live yesterday, Mr Sarwar claimed that the leading charity had said that the Scottish Parliament already had all the powers it needed in order to tackle poverty.

However, after being asked to comment on the Labour MPs comments, the charity denied it held any such position and confirmed they had contacted the Labour MP over the issue.

Rejecting suggestions it had made the claims attributed to it by Mr Sarwar, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation also confirmed that they have “been in touch with Anas Sarwar about this.” 

In a tweet, the added: “Our research shows Scotland could do more but UK has biggest role to play”.

The comments from the Labour MP followed a live debate on the BBC which saw politicians and members of the public discuss the pros and cons of independence.

Speaking during the debate, the Glasgow Labour MP said: “why don’t we look at the independent, non-political Joseph Rowntree Foundation which has already said that all the powers to actually address child poverty already exist in the Scottish Parliament”.

However, following an investigation by online blog Wings over Scotland, it emerged the charity had made no such claim.  Asked on social media site Twitter to comment on Mr Sarwar’s claim, the charity tweeted “we’re looking into this”.

Pressed by online blogger Stuart Campbell who administers the Wings over Scotland online site, who asked if the charity had been misrepresented by the Labour MP, the charity replied; “Yes, our rpt: more Scot can do more within current powers,devolution can make own dent in pov,but UK powers play biggest role”

Commenting, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn who is the Deputy Convener of the Welfare Reform Committee said:

“Anas Sarwar has been rightly pulled up for completely misrepresenting the position of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on this issue.

“They are clearly concerned that their position has been so publicly misrepresented and the record must now be set straight.

“Anas Sarwar has either got his facts wrong or been deliberately dishonest and in either case must issue an immediate public apology.

“This willingness to play fast and loose with the truth is unfortunately the hallmark of the anti-independence campaign which never let the facts stand in the way of another Project Fear scare story.

“The fact of the matter is that the most significant powers that could help address child poverty in Scotland rest with a Westminster system that has comprehensively failed people living here.

“With the powers of an independent Scotland we can build a fairer, more prosperous country that achieves more in tackling child poverty that Westminster has ever managed.”

The comments from Anas Sarwar are the latest in a series of claims from Scottish Labour politicians that have later emerged not to have been true.

This weekend, Labour MSP Jackie Baillie told listeners to Radio Scotland that the Labour party would abolish the Bedroom Tax if they won the next UK general election and that an announcement would be made “soon”.  However within hours, a spokeswoman from the party’s London HQ denied Labour had any such plans and accused the MSP of having gone a bit too far.

Last Thursday Mr Sarwar’s leader, Johann Lamont was accused of defaming a Scottish businessman after she suggested his politics had played a part in a land deal that saw him make a £790,000 profit.  Businessman John McGlynn demanded apology after it emerged the land had in fact been originally purchased by Labour controlled SPT for £840,000 when it was earmarked for the ill-fated GARL project.

Mr McGlynn was able to buy the land back at a reduced price after it was put up for public auction, but no other parties offered a bid.


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