Scottish Daily Mail
Sir Keir: We need to make a stronger case for the Union
‘We can’t defend the status quo’
SIR KEIR Starmer has pledged to make a ‘stronger case for the Union’ in a bid to win back voters in Scotland.
The Labour leader yesterday warned the ‘status quo’ is not working – but refused to set out his party’s offering in the constitutional debate.
Instead, he told Scotland on Sunday that he was waiting until Gordon Brown had published his Commission on the Future of the UK.
The former prime minister is due to publish his report after the council elections in May. It is expected to recommend a wave of new powers are devolved to the Scottish parliament.
Speaking to the newspaper, Sir Keir was asked for his view on ‘Devo Max’, which would see full fiscal autonomy handed to the government in Scotland. The controversial idea has often been proposed as a compromise to the independence argument.
On this, Sir Keir said: ‘My strong view is that decisions about people should be made as close to them as possible.
‘Obviously there are huge issues bound up with any question of fiscal devolution. The general principle works, we can’t defend the status quo. I believe in the Union and I think we need to make a stronger case for the Union.’
But, Sir Keir added: ‘Until Gordon [Brown] finishes his piece of work I am not saying anything about it one way or another.
‘The most important thing is we make this powerful case for the Union, and that’s why [Scottish Labour leader] Anas Sarwar and I are working so closely together.’
The Labour Party has suffered at the ballot box in Scotland in recent years. At the 2019 election the party lost six MPs, with only Ian Murray representing Labour north of the Border at Westminster.
And at the Scottish parliament election last May, Mr Sarwar’s party lost two seats – with Labour continuing as the third largest party.
The Scottish Daily Mail previously revealed that the Scottish Labour Party had raised only £250 in 2019. Mr Sarwar was forced to launch an emergency funding plan when fundraising plummeted.
Sir Keir said: ‘I need to persuade people in Scotland there is a real alternative to the Tory government in Westminster.
‘I’m not surprised that in Scotland people feel disaffected by continuous Tory governments in Westminster.’
He added: ‘It’s very important for voters in Scotland to have the hope we can have a Labour government in Westminster because that materially changes the lives of many people in Scotland.’
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: ‘Labour can’t be trusted to defend the Union,’ adding that Sir Kier’s party ‘won’t stand up to the Nationalists and their damaging fixation with another referendum’.
He added: ‘The Scottish Conservatives are the strongest opposition at Holyrood.’