ANAS Sarwar has condemned Margaret Thatcher’s legacy in Scotland – but defended Keir Starmer’s comments praising her.

In an article for the Sunday Telegraph, the UK Labour leader said the former Tory prime minister brought “meaningful change” and “sought to drag Britain out of its stupor by setting loose our natural entrepreneurialism”. 

This led to fury from both Labour and SNP politicians, with First Minister Humza Yousaf slamming the comments as an “insult” to Scottish communities who were decimated by her policies. SNP Westminster group leader Stephen Flynn, meanwhile, challenged Sarwar over whether he supported Starmer’s comments.

Outside Pollokshaws Burgh Hall on Tuesday morning, the Scottish Labour leader was quick to attack Thatcher’s legacy in Scotland.

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“Let me be really clear, Margaret Thatcher was a destructive force for our country. She decimated communities across Scotland and in many parts of the UK,” he said.

But Sarwar then defended Starmer’s comments, urging the public to “actually read the article rather than the headline or opposition attacks”.

He also refused to say whether Starmer got it “wrong” for Scottish voters, and when asked by journalists if his apparent praise could be seen as pandering to Tory voters, or alienating Scots, he said: “By its very nature, we have to persuade people who have voted for other political parties to vote for your political party in any future election.”

He went on: “I would remind those opposition parties, though, that it was [former first minister] Alex Salmond that said Scotland didn’t have a problem with Margaret Thatcher’s economic policy – where was Humza Yousaf and Stephen Flynn then?”

In 2008, while leader of the SNP, Salmond said Scotland “didn’t mind the economic side” of Thatcher’s tenure, but rejected the “social side”.

Sarwar went on say that Thatcher would find the current Tory UK Government “unpalatable”.

He said: “We were right to oppose her then and we’re right to oppose this modern-day Thatcherite Conservative Party – actually a Conservative Party that’s gone so extreme that I imagine even Margaret Thatcher would find them unpalatable.”