Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s most recent visit to Scotland to boost support for the party has been branded a “washout” by a senior SNP figure – a view described as “pathetic” by Scottish Labour’s deputy leader.
Stephen Flynn MP, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, hit out this weekend, claiming Sir Keir had failed to assure voters during his trip north of the border that he would revisit existing policies such as the two-child benefit cap and the bedroom tax if he became prime minister.
Sir Keir rebuffed suggestions of a clash with Scottish party members who oppose the cap during a visit to Rutherglen to buoy up support for Scottish Labour candidate Michael Shanks in a looming by-election.
Flynn also accused Scottish Labour of frequently changing its position on policies which he claimed would make people question whether further devolution was possible under Labour rule should the party gain the most seats at Westminster in the next general election.
Responding to the criticism, Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie accused the SNP of siding with Conservative attacks out of an inability to stand on its own record in office.
Flynn said: “Sir Keir Starmer’s visit to check in on his branch office has been a complete washout and has left voters in no doubt that only the SNP are offering people in Scotland real hope and real change.
“Whether it’s refusing to scrap the two-child limit and rape clause, to bin the bedroom tax, to strengthen workers’ rights, to invest in Scotland’s energy future, or to enhance devolution, it’s clear that Sir Keir Starmer offers Scottish voters nothing.
“Meanwhile their Scotland branch office – headed up by Anas Sarwar – has shown there is not a single issue they will not fold on, making you wonder if there is anything they will do to enhance devolution.
“While Sarwar lies down to Starmer, the SNP will always stand up for Scotland because with Labour the message is clear: ‘If you don’t like our values, don’t worry, we have plenty of others’.
“At the next election, a vote for the SNP is a vote to reject cruel Westminster policies, tackle the cost-of-living crisis, and deliver a strong team of MPs who only answer to their constituents and Scotland – not London.”
MSP Dame Jackie said: “This is pathetic and limp from a party that is out of touch and out of time.
“Under the SNP and the Tories inequality and poverty has soared – there are 40,000 more children in poverty in Scotland compared to a decade ago.
“That is why the SNP is lining up with Tories to attack Labour and our plans to deliver stronger workers’ rights and wages – because they can’t stand on their own record.
“From a new deal for working people to ending Tory sleaze, only Labour is standing for hope and change.
“That the SNP is claiming to represent change after 16 years in power is laughable.”