Scottish Labour leadership contender Anas Sarwar MSP has today announced he will relinquish all of his shares in southside-based cash and carry firm United Wholesale.
The move aims to answer heavy barracking by the Scottish National Party about his links with a firm which does not pay the Living Wage to all employees.
Mr Sarwar initially said that as a minority shareholder he had no control over policy, but in the face of continual jibes about his involvement with the firm has now severed his links with the company in a bid to demonstrate “unswerving commitment to public service”.
In one example of how United Wholesale had become a liability to Sarwar’s chances of defeating rival leadership hopeful Richard Leonard First Minister Nicola Sturgeon answered an assertion that he would be parked on her lawn every day with a tweet promising to pay him the Living Wage to mow it.
In a Holyrood exchange Ms Sturgeon said there was “a massive gulf - a gulf as wide as the Clyde - between what Labour says and what Labour does”.
Questions were also raised over union representation at the business.
In a Facebook message today, cast in the third person, Sarwar is said to have always been fully transparent about his shareholding with the firm set up by his father, Labour politician Mohammed Sarwar.
He says he remains proud of his dad’s achievement, and pointed out that many of the company’s 250 employees live in Nicola Sturgeon’s southside constituency.
Anas Sarwar is said to play no active role in the firm, and voluntarily waived his right to any dividend after becoming an MSP.
The Facebook post stated: “He will now be unable to access the assets or take any remuneration for his lifetime.”
It goes on to stress that although senior politicians have previously placed shares in a blind trust that can be accessed at a later point, Anas will “go even further”.
He has signed a discretionary trust deed that means he can never access the assets.
The beneficiaries of the trust will be Anas’s three young children, who will not access the assets until they are adults.
Mr Sarwar said: “Politicised attacks from Nicola Sturgeon and others who want to destroy the Labour Party will never stop me fighting to return us to power.
“I will always put the Labour Party and my country first. I am in the Labour Party because of my values, and members deserve to hear the radical policy ideas I am putting forward for the next Scottish Labour government”
Labrokes’ betting odds on the two contenders today (for an outright win) were 8/13 for Richard Leonard and 5/4 for Anas Sarwar.