Tories could still win next election, Starmer warns in Glasgow speech

The Labour leader claimed only his party could maximise Scotland's influence in the UK Government.

Keir Starmer: Tories could still win next UK election, Labour leader warns in Glasgow speech Getty Images

Keir Starmer has warned the Tories could still win the next UK general election – despite the party consistently polling around 20 points ahead of their rivals.

Speaking to Scottish Labour members on the last day of the party’s conference in Glasgow, the Labour leader took aim at the SNP for claiming Labour is almost certain to win the next ballot.

He said while Humza Yousaf’s party wanted to send a message to Westminster, Scottish Labour wanted to send a government.

He claimed that only Labour could put Scotland at the heart of the next UK Government.

He pledged to deliver a period of “national renewal” across Scotland and the rest of the UK and said his party would “break the class ceiling”.

The party has been buoyed by several by-election wins, overturning two large Tory majorities in England earlier this week.

He said his party had been “reborn” by the Scottish Labour victory in Rutherglen and Hamilton West last year.

Despite the wins though, the Labour leader urged caution among party members.

He told the crowd at the Scottish Event Campus: “No matter what the SNP say the Tories can win the next election.

“Of course they can. Politics is volatile. It’s ridiculous to say otherwise.

“So I would also say this: imagine – even if only for a second – what it will feel like if you wake up on the day after the election. And the Tories are back. Encouraged again, emboldened again, entitled again.

“Because – respectfully – I do not think that would be in Scotland’s national interest. And the easiest way to stop it, the only way to be sure of stopping it. Is to choose Labour to fight for Scotland in Westminster.”

He said the SNP have had a “faithful ally in the Conservative Party in Westminster” that “wilfully makes it impossible to argue that Britain is on their side”.

He criticised the Conservatives over the party’s handling of the UK’s finances, saying a lack of economic security remains a “direct threat to Britain”.

He also took aim at “17 years of SNP failure” and pointed to the CalMac ferry row, rising NHS waiting times and declining education performance.

‘We need a ceasefire now’

At the start of his speech, Starmer repeated his calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying the fighting “must stop now”.

He has come under fresh pressure over his stance on the crisis after members north of the border backed “immediate” calls for a ceasefire.

It comes just days before an SNP-led vote on an immediate cessation of fighting this week, which Labour has so far failed to rule out backing amid fears the Commons motion could reopen deep divides among MPs.

Starmer won sustained applause as he called for a “ceasefire that lasts”, notably avoiding using the carefully chosen term “sustainable ceasefire” in his address to Scottish members.

The Scottish Conservatives said said Starmer’s claims that oil and gas will remain in the UK for decades were “undermined” after business leaders in the north east criticised Labour for its plans on fossil fuels.

“Labour are betraying North Sea workers and abandoning a crucial Scottish industry,” MSP Craig Hoy said.

“Only the Scottish Conservatives are standing up for energy workers in the North East, unlike Labour and the SNP who want to run down our oil and gas industry, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.”

SNP MP and social justice spokesperson David Linden said: “Sir Keir Starmer’s speech has shown yet again that only the SNP is offering people across Scotland the right to choose a stronger, fairer and more prosperous future as an independent country.

“Starmer has made the values of his Labour party clear; they will cap child benefits but not bankers’ bonuses, they will support a hard Brexit, they will keep the rape clause – those are not Scotland’s values.

“Aside from his values, the hypocrisy of Sir Keir Starmer to speak about Scotland’s green energy economic potential in the same week he dumped his £28 billion investment pledge and announced plans which could cost 100,000 jobs was breathtaking. 

“Unlike Starmer, the SNP will always stand up for Scotland’s interests but only independence offers Scotland the opportunity to escape broken Brexit Britain and build a stronger, fairer, and more prosperous economy free from Westminster control.” 

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