UK Labour leader Keir Starmer used a speech on Thursday to outline what he called a “new chapter for Britain”, but the London MP didn’t mention Scotland once in his speech, leaving his political opponents north of the border crying foul as they brand his vision of the future “reheated Blairism.”
In post-pandemic Britain, Keir Starmer sees a country that embraces science, technology and work, and he’s invoking the sprit of the Second World War to galvanise voters.
“I believe there’s a mood in the air which we don’t detect often in Britain. It was there in 1945, after the sacrifice of war, and it’s there again now,” he says.
That was one of many references to the wartime generation in the Labour leader’s lengthy Thursday speech, with Starmer clearly drawing a great deal of his inspiration from the past while also criticising Boris Johnson’s Conservatives for looking backwards too.
Tories, say Starmer, offer “a roadmap to yesterday. Another decade of insecurity and inequality” and he promised that Labour would choose a long-term path that focuses on tackling inequality to build “a more secure and prosperous economy.”
He offered a range of budget proposals to help lift families out of poverty and support local councils, with some of the measures he proposed already devolved to the Scottish Government.
But although Keir Starmer managed half a dozen references to the Second World War and the Blitz, one topic he didn’t mention in his speech about the future of Britain, was Scotland.
There was no mention, either, of the constitution, independence or the upcoming Holyrood elections – although Labour contends that the economy is the most important issue on the minds of all UK voters, including those in Scotland.
“In his speech today, Keir Starmer laid out an ambitious plan for a British Recovery Bond that would have huge benefits for people across the UK, including in Scotland,” a Scottish Labour source says.
The party has just one Scottish MP, in Edinburgh, and has struggled to make a significant breakthrough in opinion polls.
Harold Wilson said the Labour Party is "a moral crusade or it is nothing."
Today, our moral crusade must be to address the inequalities and injustices that this crisis has so brutally exposed.
Together we must build a better and more secure future. pic.twitter.com/cme7ocVUgt
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) February 18, 2021
‘No point in voting Labour’
The SNP says Starmer needed Thursday’s speech to relaunch “his faltering leadership” but delivered only “tired soundbites, reheated Blairism and not a single mention of Scotland”.
“There is now so little to distinguish Boris Johnson’s Tories and Keir Starmer’s Labour – with both parties imposing a hard Brexit and opposing Scotland’s right to choose our own future in a post-pandemic referendum,” says SNP Westminster Deputy Leader Kirsten Oswald, MP.
“With Scottish Labour conceding the next Scottish election there is no point in voting Labour. They would just let Boris Johnson carry on ignoring Scotland and imposing unwanted policies.”