ANAS Sarwar has been skewered over making “disingenuous” promises to Scots over his priorities for the country.

The Scottish Labour leader is facing awkward questions after he claimed the party’s “number one principle” for reforming Holyrood was: “The Scottish people are sovereign and have the right to determine the best form of government for our needs.”

But the SNP have said Scottish Labour’s continued opposition to holding a second referendum on the question of Scottish independence exposes this pledge as a “con-trick”.

Paul McLennan, SNP MSP for East Lothian, has called on Sarwar to “apologise for trying to hoodwink” people.

It comes after Sarwar on Wednesday revealed his plans to reform the Scottish Parliament, which he argued was not fulfilling its duties in holding the Government to account, claiming the SNP had installed a culture of “secrecy” in the corridors of power.

McLennan added: “If Labour had a shred of honesty or integrity, their top pledge – that the ‘Scottish people are sovereign and have the right to determine the best form of government suited to our needs’ – would mean that they support the democratic mandate for an independence referendum.

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“Instead they stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tories in trying to block the democratic will of the people.

“Their paper is one of the most dishonest documents published by a political party in recent times, but the people of Scotland can see right through it. And the longer Labour side with the Tories the more irrelevant they become.”

A senior Government source told The National: “Clearly Scottish Labour don’t believe a word of this because otherwise they’d be backing a referendum.

“Not because they necessarily want independence but because they recognise there’s a democratic mandate.

“It’s deeply, deeply disingenuous from Labour.”

Sarwar has unveiled a list of pledges he said would create more transparency and accountability in both the parliament and the Scottish Government.

Katy Clark, the party’s community spokesperson, will introduce a bill to parliament which will strengthen the Freedom of Information laws in Scotland.

And Sarwar pledged a Scottish Labour government would tighten the ministerial code, introduce recall powers to get rid of MSPs convicted of crimes or found to have broke parliamentary rules, as well as introducing the right of parliamentary privilege in Holyrood.

But the Scottish Government has said its rules on disclosure were already the strongest and most far-reaching in the UK.

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Sarwar remains committed to opposing a second vote on Scotland’s future, framing the constitutional question as “divisive” and arguing independence is a “distraction” from other issues.

The SNP insist Scotland being tied to the Union meant the country was not able to deal fully with crises facing society amid the cost-of-living crisis and the lasting impact of austerity.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government is committed to openness and transparency and recognises that scrutiny is the bedrock that underlies effective governance.

"It is for the Scottish Parliament to consider matters relevant to its internal operation, including its mechanisms for holding the Government to account.

“Scotland already has the most open and far-reaching FOI legislation in the UK, and we are currently considering extending it even further.

“Independent advisers are already reviewing the Ministerial Code and its relationship with the new procedure for handling complaints about Ministers in order to better balance the public interest with considerations of privacy and confidentiality, and to ensure that there is full confidence in the process.

"Any necessary changes to the Ministerial Code are for the First Minister to consider and will be made in due course.

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“The Scottish Government’s communications department supports the provision of information to the public such as vital public health messages, promotion of Covid-19 and flu vaccination campaigns and advice on help with energy bills and the cost of living crisis. 

“Our news service functions round the clock, providing responses to journalists’ enquiries seven days a week, ensuring newspapers and broadcasters can access information on behalf of the public and hold the government accountable.”

Scottish Labour was approached for comment.