Keir Starmer's dismissal of deals between Labour and SNP has an air of 'you have no authority here, Jackie Weaver' – Laura Waddell
Sir Keir Starmer has graced Scotland with his honourable presence once again, this time in advance of the looming council elections.
As the cost-of-living crisis swirls out of control, teachers and doctors are at breaking point, demand for food banks swells once more, and hard-working people worry about choosing between heating and food, what message is Labour using Starmer’s visit to Glasgow to get out to the Scottish electorate?
Oh. That Labour won’t do a deal with the SNP at any level of government, council or otherwise. How deeply uninspiring.
Nevermind the practical consideration that Scottish councils generally depend on coalitions to get anything done, and Labour and the SNP already share power in several.
Starmer told the Daily Record: “No coalition between Labour and the SNP at the local level or the national level. Going into this general election, let me be absolutely clear – no deal going into the general election, no deal the other side of it. I could not be clearer about this and I hope no one misses my message about this.”
Message received, as clear as a bell. Through its histrionic, brittle, unbending anti-independence stance, Scottish Labour intends to continue its long, slow slide into irrelevancy.
No one up here has forgotten Labour’s infamous collaboration with the Conservatives on the 2014 fearmongering Better Together campaign, and how that has turned out, with Scots now stuck in a post-Brexit Britain hellscape.
It feels tedious even to mention it, but the cloud it cast over Scottish Labour’s prospects is still in the sky. Every time Starmer or his predecessors have trotted out these performative refusals to work with the SNP, they seem to be trying to paint the nationalists as wildcard extremists, with whom collaboration is entirely beyond the pale.
But this just doesn’t jive with the voters on the ground, evidently, who have repeatedly, and for the best part of a decade now, elected the SNP as their representatives at all levels of government, leaving Labour to languish in the dust.
Labour are still deeply in denial about pro-independence appetite in Scottish voters, and the popular appeal of the SNP as a centre-left ruling party. For how many more years will that still be the case?
By making a show of refusing to collaborate with today’s SNP, Labour are still clinging onto a pretence that pro-independence election results are a fluke, rather than a trajectory.
I’ve written before about UK Labour leaders taking day trips to Scotland and speaking more to their English base than local voters with this copy-and-repeat ‘tough on independence’ routine.
Frankly, the modern Scottish Labour Party would do well to grab for any seat at any table it can get. Stamping their feet about power sharing in councils has an embarrassing air of “You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver”. No wonder voters keep clicking the mute button.
At this point, it doesn’t look like Scottish Labour are managing to successfully spite an opposing political party so much as thumbing their noses at Scottish votes in general – not least when Labour leadership ums and ahs about ‘allowing’ the Scots to have another independence referendum.
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.