ANAS Sarwar has called for a snap Holyrood election because of the upcoming change in first minister – despite Scottish Labour having twice installed a new first minister without calling one.

Speaking at Nicola Sturgeon’s final FMQs on Thursday, Sarwar claimed that the new SNP leader will not inherit the party’s mandate from the 2021 election.

He said the last Holyrood vote was a “pandemic election” – reflecting Labour’s rhetoric at the time – and that the mandate won there was because Sturgeon made “a direct appeal from her to steer the country through the pandemic and the Covid recovery”.

The National:

Sarwar went on: “But as her potential successors squabble over their own record in government, they can’t escape facts. They don’t have a plan for Scotland, they don’t have a mandate from the public, and that is why we need an election now.

“So in my final question to Nicola Sturgeon, does she agree with her own words: ‘There are no words to describe this utter shambles adequately. It’s beyond hyperbole and parody. Reality though is that ordinary people are paying the price.

‘The interests of the party should concern no-one right now, an election is now a democratic imperative’.”

The quote from Sturgeon came when Liz Truss resigned as UK prime minister after a matter of weeks. Soon after, Rishi Sunak was chosen by the Tories to be the UK’s third prime minister of 2022.

At the time, Keir Starmer was also calling for a General Election, and Sarwar had backed those calls.

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Responding at Holyrood, Sturgeon said: “That was about the Conservatives at Westminster and one of the differences between me and Anas Sarwar is I don’t support Tory government of Scotland, because Scotland does not vote for Conservatives.

“I fought three General Elections as SNP leader and the SNP has won all of them. At every one we’ve heard the same messages from Labour and at every single one the people of Scotland have cast their verdict.”

Former Labour MP Tom Harris said on Twitter that Sarwar’s election call was “a challenging one, given that Labour changed FM twice in the first term of the Scottish Parliament. Without an election". 

In 2000, Henry McLeish took over after the death of Scotland’s first first minister, Donald Dewar. In 2001, McLeish was succeeded by Jack McConnell amid a scandal around income he received from sub-letting a property subsidised by the taxpayer.

UK Labour’s last prime minister, Gordon Brown, also took office mid-term and without calling a General Election. Brown was in No 10 from 2007, when Tony Blair left, until he lost the election of 2010.

The next SNP leader is due to be announced in the afternoon of Monday, March 27. They are expected to be confirmed as first minister in parliament the following day.