Scottish Labour urged to ‘join party’ as Sarwar complains about Glasgow Olympic celebrations


By a Newsnet reporter
The Scottish Labour party have been urged to stop complaining about plans to hold a celebration of Scots Olympians in Glasgow and “just join the party”.
The urging from the Scottish government follows criticism of the Glasgow celebration plans from Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar MP.

Speaking in an article in the Herald, Mr Sarwar described plans to hold a special celebration for Scottish athletes as “very disappointing” and revealed he has written to First Minister Alex Salmond demanding that the Glasgow parade be opened up to all of the UK athletes.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Sarwar said: “Scots cheered on Team GB and Scotland should not be denied the chance to celebrate the success of Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah, just as we will celebrate the success of Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Murray.”

Insisting the parade should include all of Team GB, Mr Sarwar added: “I call on Alex Salmond as First Minister of Scotland to work with the British Olympic Association to make that happen.”

However a Scottish Government spokesman pointed out that the British Olympic Association were involved in the Glasgow celebrations.

He said: “The homecoming parade and reception in Glasgow for Scotland’s fantastic Olympians and Paralympians have been organised with Labour-run Glasgow City Council and the British Olympic Association – in exactly the same way that the Labour First Minister in Wales is honouring the Welsh Olympians and Paralympians in Cardiff. 

“We had the same sort of celebration in Edinburgh four years ago after Beijing – and I don’t recall Labour complaining about that.  Labour would do better just to join in the party.”

Mr Sarwar’s demands that all UK athletes be invited to Glasgow, would clash with an identical event to be held in Wales.  Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones has announced a homecoming event for Welsh athletes who were part of Team GB on the same day as the Glasgow event.

In a statement, the Welsh FM says: “Everyone in Wales can be truly proud of what our athletes have achieved as part of Team GB. Their determination and drive has been truly inspirational and made a huge contribution to Britain’s record medal haul.”

Mr Jones added: “That is why we are organising a homecoming event in Cardiff for both our Olympian and Paralympic heroes on the Friday the 14th September.  We will release more details of the event closer to the time, but I call on everyone who can to turn out and give them the welcome home they deserve.”

Commenting on the Glasgow parade, Labour’s Glasgow Council leader, Gordon Matheson said: “Glasgow is the obvious place to host Scotland’s celebrations for Team GB.  I want children to be inspired by Team GB’s success so it’s only right we honour the achievement of our elite athletes.”

However, Mr Matheson’s views were challenged by Labour peer and former MSP George Foulkes who attacked the decision to hold the Games celebration in Glasgow.  The senior Labour figure claimed it should have been held in Edinburgh and was being used in order to highlight the 2014 Commonwealth Games which he said was “a separate thing”.

He added: “Alex Salmond tried to use the Olympics politically by coining this stupid phrase Scolympians, which went down like a lead balloon, he spent half a million pounds on a Scotland House in Pall Mall, and he sees the whole thing as serving his political agenda. 

“I’m sure that’s why he has chosen the parade should be in Glasgow.”

Louise Martin, chairwoman of sportscotland, said: “Glasgow is a fitting location for this celebration as it was an Olympic city, is bidding for the Youth Olympic Games in 2018, and hosts Scotland’s largest ever multi-sport event in 2014.”

Andy Hunt, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, said: “Scottish athletes contributed 13 medals to Team GB and should be celebrated in style.”

Mr Sarwar’s attack on the Olympic celebrations follows several attempts by Unionist politicians to politicise the Games and the success of Scottish athletes who won seven gold medals, four silver and two bronze for a record haul.