Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is being advised by a key figure behind ex-Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson’s political brand, Coffee House can reveal.
Eddie Barnes, a former spinner for Davidson when she led the party, has been helping Scottish Labour during the Holyrood campaign with messaging and voter strategy. He helped craft Davidson’s cheery, accessible image as she brought her party back from the brink of extinction in Scotland. It’s not difficult to see his influence in the way Sarwar has led an upbeat and confident campaign with attention-grabbing moments such as this dance class.
— Gordon McKee (@GordonMcKee_) April 24, 2021
When you’re on a campaign visit with @AnasSarwar and there’s a dance class going on.He couldn’t resist.... pic.twitter.com/WQmZmQdoag
Barnes works for Gordon Brown’s pro-Union think tank Our Scottish Future but has also lent his hand to Sarwar’s campaign. While he has kept his involvement with Labour below the radar, the party sees Barnes’s help as a coup for Sarwar. One source says: ‘He wants to save the Union. It’s his number one task.’
It is rather less of a coup for the party Barnes previously worked for. The Conservatives have a much noisier anti-independence message in the Scottish parliamentary elections than Labour, which is trying to appeal to voters who previously backed 'yes'.