Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he is showing “bold leadership” by taking on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in her Glasgow constituency.
Mr Sarwar has chosen to stand in the city’s Southside seat, which the SNP leader won with a majority of almost 10,000 in 2016.
The Labour politician hit out at the levels of poverty in the area, saying Ms Sturgeon should be focusing on this rather than independence.
Speaking about his decision to run against the SNP leader, Mr Sarwar said his home is in the constituency.
He said: “I live there, I have been brought up there, I am bringing my own children up there.
“I’m not doing what previous political leaders have done for other political parties and looking to get parachuted into a seat somewhere where it is comfortable.
“I very deliberately chose to stand in Glasgow Southside, because it is my local community.
“I want to rebuild people’s trust and faith in the Labour Party and I want to start that from the community I live in, and build that trust, and use that same hope and optimism to build hope and trust in the wider Labour Party across the country.”
By running against the current First Minister he insisted he is “deliberately demonstrating confidence and bold leadership”.
Mr Sarwar said: “I am happy to challenge and stand in Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency.
“She is focused on other priorities, I want to focus on the priorities that matter to people.
“Almost 50% of the children that live in Glasgow Southside live in poverty, this is the First Minister’s constituency and it has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, that’s not good enough, that is not acceptable.
“There are too many people living in Glasgow Southside in poor housing conditions, in overcrowded housing, too many in insecure work, too many struggling because of high levels of youth unemployment.
“These are all huge issues that have largely gone ignored by the Scottish Government and by the First Minister.”
With Labour’s Scottish election campaign focused on rebuilding Scotland after coronavirus, Mr Sarwar spoke about his “national recovery express” bus, which he will use to travel around the country in the run-up to the May 6 vote.
He told how the vehicle is being made a “Covid-secure environment”, saying: “We are making sure we are following all the protocols in terms of distancing of the people and limits on it.
“There are obviously exemptions for party leaders to travel across different parts of Scotland, with only essential staff, so that is all we will be using it for.”
Those travelling on the bus will undergo regular coronavirus testing, Mr Sarwar added.