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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
19 February 2023
'The tide is turning on the Tories and the SNP', says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer gives keynote speech to Scottish Labour Conference | Alamy

'The tide is turning on the Tories and the SNP', says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has said that “the tide is turning on the Tories and the SNP”.  

Speaking at Scottish Labour’s spring conference, the Labour leader acknowledged that the party needs to “reach out” to the former voters who have given their vote to the SNP in previous elections.  

Starmer made the case that it is Labour’s time to build a “fairer, greener, more dynamic Scotland”, criticising what the Tories and the SNP “have done to this nation”. He added: “We can’t let their sticking plaster politics ruin the NHS.”

He accused the SNP of not being “truly invested in Scotland”, adding that “if it’s not about the constitution they’re not interested”.  

“We could never work with that. So, whatever happens in the coming months, my message is the same: no deal under any circumstances.”

He told conference that whoever in power at Westminster after the election next year that they “must give more power and resources to Scotland” adding that Scotland needs further devolution.  

Starmer recounted past periods in office; rebuilding homes after the Second World War, “harnessing the white heat of technology” in 1964, and devolution, telling delegates that “Labour must rise to the moment and provide it, again.”

The Labour leader signposted the challenges facing the country; the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, and the war in Russia, lamenting that “sticking up a border doesn’t solve any of them”. He added: “We need to meet the forces of division with renewed hope...

“I want to address those who have given up on Labour directly. And those who had given up on Britain.  

“The people of Scotland want change and hope. Not a showy, grandiose hope. The sort of hope that you can build a future around.”

He was clear that a Labour victory at the next general election “must run through Scotland”.

Speaking on the UK’s potential, Starmer told the conference: “Britain has an economy that hoards potential and a politics which hoards power. These two problems feed off each other.  

“No similar country puts so much decision-making in the hands of so few people. That leads to more inequality across our country than anywhere else in Europe, it’s no coincidence.”

Starmer turned his attentions to building back relations with Europe, if elected, saying his government would “seek to reset relations with the European Union” while looking “to increase trade, reduce frictions, and fix the Brexit deal”.  

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