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by Louise Wilson
10 March 2023
Keir Starmer: SNP has ‘run out of road’

Starmer said the SNP is 'now completely stuck' | Alamy

Keir Starmer: SNP has ‘run out of road’

The SNP has “run out of road” after the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon, Keir Starmer has said.

The Labour leader was on a visit to Glasgow alongside shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves to set out his party’s plans for the economy.

Speaking to journalists afterwards, he said the living standards of Scots “aren’t where they need to be” and the SNP was “absolutely collapsing into itself and not facing any of the challenges that so many people in Scotland are facing every day”.

He said the leadership candidates were “having an inward facing argument with itself about how bad their record in government has been”.

Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan are all in the running to replace Sturgeon as SNP leader and first minister, following the shock resignation last month.

SNP members will begin voting from Monday and the result is set to be announced two weeks later.

The candidates have had several high-profile clashes in recent days, with Forbes in particular honing in on Yousaf’s record in the health, justice and transport briefs while in government.

Starmer said: “The spectacle, frankly, of these candidates tearing bits out of each other on just how bad they’ve been in office tells you all you need to know about how far the SNP has run out of road. It was in a cul-de-sac. It’s now completely stuck.

“That means that the argument about change in Scotland is no longer an argument that belongs anywhere near the SNP. The change in Scotland is not who’s going to be the next leader of the SNP. The change in Scotland is the Labour Party taking us forward.”

Meanwhile Anas Sarwar, who was only on the visit to the Siemens factory in Cambuslang, said he didn’t “fear” any of the candidates.

He added: “I think even the most ardent SNP supporter would accept that none of these candidates are of the calibre of Nicola Sturgeon.

“And if Nicola Sturgeon can’t fix our NHS, how’s Humza Yousaf going to fix our NHS? If Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t fix our economy, how is Kate Forbes going to fix our economy? If Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t pull our country together, how’s Ash Regan going to pull our country together?”

Sarwar was also asked about Labour’s approach to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which has been blocked by the UK Government.

The deadline for the Scottish Government to challenge the move is mid-April.

The Scottish leader said the SNP contest was a chance to “reset the debate”.

He said: “If we’re being honest with ourselves, nobody feels like they’ve won. Everyone feels like they’ve lost.

“I don’t think anyone in our trans community feels like they’re any more protected since the passing of the GRR bill. And I don’t think any of the women that had legitimate concerns feel any more protected or reassured since the passing of the bill.

“I think a new leadership is an opportunity to reset and to try and change the way this is going, so we can find the consensus way forward, rather than pitting community against community.”

Starmer was pressed on whether he would look to introduce self-identification for trans people if he becomes the next UK prime minister. He said it was “not a priority”.

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