If the SNP could not solve problems in Scotland over the past 14 years, they should stand aside for the Labour Party, former prime minister Gordon Brown has said.
Speaking at a drive-in rally of supporters in Glasgow, Mr Brown talked up new Labour leader Anas Sarwar while urging voters to turn out for the party on Thursday.
The former prime minister pointed to what he described as failings of the Scottish Government in employment, healthcare and education as reasons to vote for Scottish Labour, whom polls predict will still be in third place come next week.
He told the supporters: “If the SNP could not solve the health problem, the waiting list problem, the mental health problem, the social care problem in any one of the 14 years in government, they will never solve the problem now.
“That’s why they should give way to the Labour Party, who can do it.”
He added: “It’s not just a health crisis, it’s the education crisis.”
The former Labour prime minister said inequality in Scottish education has been rising during the SNP’s term in office.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers have pointed to improvements in some areas when it comes to the attainment gap, but an Audit Scotland report published in March found the gap remains wide despite some progress being made.
Mr Brown added: “Every indicator that should be going up is going down and every indicator that should be going down is going up.”
He reiterated: “If they can’t solve the education problem in 14 years in government, make way for the Labour Party who can.”
Addressing child poverty, Mr Brown said: “Poverty is not just a scandal – for children it is a crime.”
Mr Brown’s attack on the SNP continued as he said Nicola Sturgeon’s party “go to bed at night dreaming of separation, we go to bed at night dreaming of social justice”.
Addressing the crowd after Mr Brown’s speech, Anas Sarwar said his party was looking to build a “credible alternative” to the SNP, saying: “I will be first minister of this country with your support.
“We aren’t building the opposition to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, we’re building the credible alternative to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
“That’s why I say directly to people across Scotland – if you agree with me, if you like what I’m saying, if you want to build that credible alternative, you have to vote Labour tomorrow in this election campaign.”
Speaking to the PA news agency after the event, Mr Sarwar said he would “love” to be first minister after Thursday’s vote but was realistic about his chances.
“I’ve been in the job for nine weeks, I would love to believe that we could complete that journey (to form a ‘credible alternative’) over a ten-week period but I’m being realistic, I think that over the course of the next parliament we can build that credible alternative.”
He added: “I would love to be first minister after the election tomorrow, that’s of course up to the good people of Scotland to decide if that’s what they choose.
“I’m accepting that may be just a mountain too high for me at the moment, but if that’s what they choose, I have a recovery plan ready to go to help us transform this country.”
SNP candidate Shirley-Anne Somerville, who served as Social Security Secretary in the last Parliament, said: “The only thing people in Scotland want to hear from Gordon Brown is an apology for his campaigning so vocally in 2014 to keep key powers over poverty in the hands of the Tories at Westminster.
“As a result, we’ve had years of Tory austerity and welfare cuts inflicted on us, we’ve been dragged out of the EU against our will, and now we have Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.”