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by Louise Wilson
18 February 2024
Keir Starmer makes appeal to SNP voters: ‘Tories can win the next election’

Keir Starmer addressed Scottish Labour's conference on Sunday | Alamy

Keir Starmer makes appeal to SNP voters: ‘Tories can win the next election’

The Conservative Party could still win the 2024 general election, Keir Starmer has warned.

Making a direct appeal to SNP voters, the Labour leader said the “only way” to stop Rishi Sunak returning to Downing Street is to back his party.

Recent polling has put Labour and the SNP neck and neck in Scotland, and small changes in vote share could have a huge difference in the number of seats each party returns.

In England, Labour has been enjoying a double-digit lead over the Conservatives in consecutive polls.

But addressing the Scottish Labour Party conference in Glasgow, Starmer warned that his party’s victory was not assured.

He said: “No matter what the SNP say, the Tories can win the next election – of course they can, politics is volatile. It’s ridiculous to say otherwise.”

He continued: “I do not think that would be in Scotland’s national interest. And the easiest way to stop it, the only way to be sure of stopping it, is to choose Labour to fight for Scotland in Westminster.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf earlier this year said Starmer would “undoubtedly” be the next prime minister.

He said his party would be “very willing” to work with a Labour government and that an SNP win in Scotland would “help to send a really strong message to Westminster that Scotland will not be ignored”.

But Starmer said: “Scotland should send more than a message to Westminster. It should send a government.”

He also pledged to create “national renewal” across the UK, pointing to the party’s “new deal for workers”, plans to establish a publicly owned energy company and commitments to “bulldoze through red tape to deliver affordable homes”.

The Scottish Conservatives said Starmer’s policies were barely distinguishable from the SNP’s, and accused Labour of planning to “shut down” the Scottish oil and gas sector.

Chairman Craig Hoy added: “He claims Scottish Labour will support the working people of Scotland, but this uninspiring speech from the Labour leader repeatedly fails to reveal how we plans to do it. This will provide no confidence to communities across Scotland.”

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