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‘Scotland served by two bad governments’ Labour leader Starmer to tell party

Scotland is being served by “two bad governments ” playing the constitutional divide for their own ends, Keir Starmer will tell Scots today.

In his first chance to connect with voters in a major speech, Starmer will accuse Boris Johnson of putting the United Kingdom in danger with a ‘cavalier” attitude to the Union and make a direct attack on Nicola Sturgeon’s track record at Holyrood.

In his big speech to the Labour conference in Brighton, Starmer is expected set out his personal vision for Britain and how the Labour party wants to bring the four nations together.

Slamming the way Boris Johnson’s goads the SNP over independence, Starmer will say: “I believe in the Union of the nations of these islands, but we have a cavalier government that is placing that in peril.”

But he will also turn fire on the SNP leader in a speech which aides said would lay out Labour’s path for Britain beyond the covid pandemic.

He will tell delegates: “Scotland is in the unfortunate position of having two bad governments – the Tories at Westminster and the SNP at Holyrood.”

“When Nicola Sturgeon took office, she said she wanted to be judged on her record.”

“These days with the poorest in society less well educated and less healthy, and the tragedy of so many drug-related deaths, we hear rather less about the SNP’s record.”

He will go on to accuse the Tories and the SNP of feeding off the polarised politics of nationalism that has left Scotland with split and stalemate politics.

Starmer will say: “The SNP and the Tories walk in lockstep, they both exploit the constitutional divide for their own ends. Labour is the party that wants to bring our nations together.”

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Aides said Starmer will use the speech to stand before voters and define who he is, where he has come from and how his background and his values inform the politician he has become.

With divisions with the left-wing of the party to the fore at Brighton, the leader is braced for organised heckling from the floor of the conference hall from Corbyn supporters angered by leadership rule changes that deny the left control of the party.

In interviews on the eve of the speech, Starmer dismissed talk of civil war in the Labour party as a distraction from the prize of winning a general election.

Starmer will save his biggest attacks on the Tory government, promising he can deliver economic competence and compassion for the poorest in society.

He will say: “The questions we face in Britain today, are big ones. How we emerge from the biggest pandemic in a century. How we make our living in a competitive world. The climate crisis. Our relationship with Europe. The future of our union.

“These are big issues. But our politics is so small. So our politics needs to grow to meet the scale of the challenge.”

The speech will set out the short-term failures of the Conservative government on issues like the current fuel and cost of living crisis and how Johnson is failing the nation by “small and trivial” responses to the challenges thrown up by covid and climate change.

He will say: “I see the government lost in the woods with two paths beckoning. One path leads back where we came from. None of the lessons of Covid are heeded. The divisions and flaws that were brutally exposed by the pandemic all worsen.”

“But there is another path down which we address the chronic problems revealed by Covid with the kindness and the togetherness that got us through.

“That path leads to a future in which a smart government enlists the brilliance of scientific invention to create an economy in which people are healthy and well-educated. A contribution society in which everyone has their role to play.”

Ahead of the speech Starmer defended himself from the charge that he was dividing his party, and said leadership election rule changes put through conference earlier in the week were needed to make Labour electable.

Labour’s fragile unity was shaken on Monday when Andy McDonald resigned as Shadow Employment Rights Secretary, claiming he could not argue against a conference motion to recommend a minimum wage of £15 an hour.

Former leader Jeremy Corbyn also lashed out at his successor, claiming he was seeking to prop up those with wealth and power.

But Corbyn and his allies were accused of a “planned sabotage” of the conference with the resignation of McDonald and plots to heckle the leader’s speech on Wednesday

The Labour leader called critics to get behind the changes and insisted he was not happy to see leftwinger McDonald leave his shadow cabinet.



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