The National: ON Tuesday morning – a particularly chilly one – I made my way over to Pollockshaws Burgh Hall to speak with Anas Sarwar with other members of the press.

The National’s invitation went mysteriously missing (we only knew about the meet via a good samaritan) and my RSVP, and follow-up RSVP, were ignored by the party’s press office.

It’s as if they didn’t want us there.

But here we were, and it was clear that there was one particular question journalists wanted to ask – what did Sarwar think of head honcho Keir Starmer’s Sunday Telegraph comments in which he praised Margaret Thatcher in an apparent appeal to Tory voters. 

Sarwar was pretty steadfast in his criticism of the former prime minister but refused to condemn his boss’s comments.

To the contrary, he argued the focus on the story was the fault of the article headline and SNP press releases.

But what surely did Sarwar expect when his boss decided a comment piece in the Telegraph is the right time to name Thatcher alongside former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Clement Attlee as those leaders in modern British politics who sought to deliver “meaningful change” by acting “in service of the British people, rather than dictating to them”.

How else are people supposed to read into that? Especially given this is a woman that Sarwar himself said had “decimated” Scottish communities.

The National: Keir Starmer said Margaret Thatcher delivered 'meaningful change'

And despite being far from the only publication or broadcaster to ask about the comments, Sarwar still decided to take another pop at The National – as is his wont.

Instead of answering my follow-up question about The Independent reporting that Starmer’s team blocked criticism of Thatcher in 2021 – which would point to a trend – he suggested that National journalists should instead be condemning comments made by Alex Salmond in 2008 – a full 6 years before this paper was founded and 15 years after he made them.

He said: “I would love to have seen The National – they might not have been a publication then – but journalists now calling out Alex Salmond, one of the heroes of the nationalist movement despite being a disgraced politician now, who said that Scotland didn’t mind the economic policies of Thatcher.”

It’s just another in a long line of pops from Sarwar - often directed at my colleague Abbi – singling out National journalists for perfectly valid questions.

Yes – as typically the only pro-independence outlet – we can often take a different tact. If Sarwar is serious about speaking to those in the Yes movement, he should do so too.