Scotland will be ‘key’ in ‘delivering change’ at election, says Starmer

The Labour leader was critical of both the Conservative Government at Westminster and the SNP Government at Holyrood.

Sir Keir Starmer said Scotland could be ‘key to delivering the change our entire country needs’
Sir Keir Starmer said Scotland could be ‘key to delivering the change our entire country needs’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Scotland will be “key to delivering the change” the UK needs in the General Election, Sir Keir Starmer has insisted.

The UK Labour leader said voters in Scotland have an “opportunity too important to miss” to help “lead that change” and install his party into power at Westminster.

Writing in the Daily Record newspaper, Sir Keir said if he is “privileged enough” to be the next prime minister his government will be “on the side of working people”.

He said: “Instead of preying on the fears of working people, the government I lead will be dedicated to restoring the ordinary hope important to working Scots.”

He spoke out as polls once again showed support for Labour ahead of that for the SNP – which has long been the dominant party in Scottish politics.

Stressing that “Scotland is key to delivering the change our entire country needs”, the Labour leader added that voters north of the border “have been forced to pay the price for the failures of two chaotic and dysfunctional governments, both hopelessly divided and embroiled in scandal”.

He accused the SNP at Holyrood and the Tories at Westminster of having formed “two Governments that put their own party interests ahead of the national interests at every turn”.

Sir Keir said: “Here in Scotland the NHS is in chaos, with almost one in six Scots on waiting lists, and we have been plunged into a housing crisis.

“And at Westminster, the Tories have destroyed the national finances through reckless stewardship of the economy.”

But he said the election is “Scotland’s chance to stop this chaos” and to “restore decency and integrity in politics”.

He pledged Labour would create jobs in Scotland, with the publicly-owned GB Energy to be based north of the border.

Sir Keir also said Grangemouth, Scotland’s only oil refinery, where there are plans to convert it to an oil import terminal, would be the “home to the industries of the future”, saying there could be a “decarbonisation hub and a linked carbon capture and storage project” at the site.

He added: “With a Labour government, Scotland will be at the forefront of the transition to green energy – creating jobs and lowering bills for Scots.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said that the party is not complacent as he campaigned in East Renfrewshire with local candidate, Blair McDougall.

Mr Sarwar told the PA news agency: “There is no hint of complacency from the Scottish Labour party, we have no reason to be complacent given the last 17 years and the challenges we have faced and my message to the electorate is really direct, every vote for Scottish Labour is a vote to get rid of the Tories, to maximise Scotland’s influence and deliver the change our country needs.

“Don’t listen to other political parties who say that Scotland is merely a spectator in this election.

“Scotland can lead the way and, with a Labour government, they’ll be at the heart of the next UK government too.”

Sir Keir’s comments came as former Tesco Bank CEO Benny Higgins – who previously worked with the SNP government to help set up the Scottish National Investment Bank and also chaired a Scottish Government advisory group on post Covid economic recovery – insisted it is “only by choosing Labour that we can find hope and optimism”.

Writing in The Herald newspaper he claimed that Scotland had “suffered from the political malaise created by the Tories in Westminster and the SNP in Holyrood”.

He went on to accuse SNP ministers of having failed to implement most of the recommendations from his report on economic recovery post-pandemic.

Mr Higgins said: “To support a society that cares about social justice, the NHS, social care and so much more, we need a vibrant economy. We need to make it an easy choice to invest in Scotland.

“We need government to support and encourage businesses, not hinder them.

“It is precisely four years ago that I was completing my report for the Scottish Government on economic recovery beyond the pandemic. All 25 recommendations were warmly welcomed and accepted.

“Most have barely been mentioned since then.”

Mr Sarwar welcomed the comments from Mr Higgins.

He told PA: “Benny is one of over 120 business figures and business leaders across the UK that recognise that we need change, that recognise that change is only possible if we elect a UK Labour government and also recognise that Labour has a plan to deliver economic growth for every part of our country.”