Scottish independence: Keir Starmer's dismissal of rejoining European Union makes the case for leaving the UK – Laura Waddell

Sir Keir Starmer says “there is no case for rejoining the European Union”. Scotland begs to differ.

Keir Starmer has not opposed Boris Johnson's Conservatives strongly enough (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Keir Starmer has not opposed Boris Johnson's Conservatives strongly enough (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The leader of the Labour Party made his remarks to BBC Radio Newcastle at the start of the week. Starmer noticeably stressed where he was, saying: “We have exited the EU and we are not going back – let me be very clear in the north east about that.” Well, he might have been talking to the north east of England, but further north still we too can hear his message loud and clear.

Scottish voters are still taken for granted by Sir Keir’s Labour party. No matter that the majority here voted to remain within the EU and are being dragged out against our wishes, Scotland is – at best – an afterthought to UK Labour.

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Long disenchanted with the party, Scottish voters are meaningful primarily as something to blame when the vote at Westminster doesn’t go Labour’s way (no matter that the premiership is generally won and lost by English votes alone).

What we hear yet again is that fundamentally, the needs of Scottish voters do not matter enough to be reflected in Labour’s strategy. Labour’s compass points away from Scotland, long rusted in place.

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Starmer has often faced criticism for not presenting a strong enough opposition to Boris Johnson and the Conservatives. Indeed, the reliably rousing performance of the SNP’s Ian Blackford during Prime Minister’s Questions shows up Starmer’s relative meekness; no wonder commentators often describe them as “the real opposition”. But theatre aside, Sir Keir’s certainly not interested in challenging the Tories on behalf of Scottish interests because his patronising attitude towards us differs little from theirs.

Where is the fire in Starmer’s belly? Where is his vision to reroute the Tories’ last decade of destruction? If the Labour Party’s plan for power is to continue plodding along the course the Conservatives crafted, smoothing the edges of a hardest possible Brexit for them, why should Scotland stick around? We are being dragged behind like baggage.

Note the glaring double standard. While Sir Keir is keen to court Brexiteers, going so far as to parrot Tory lines about looking for “opportunity” amongst the mess just like Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, it’s worth noting Starmer’s Labour Party, like Corbyn’s before, has been stubbornly dismissive – and frankly in denial – of the strong support for a post-Brexit Scottish independence referendum.

Clearly, Scottish voters are not considered important enough for the Labour Party to bother wooing. Indeed, Starmer laughably, if somewhat chillingly, has declared that were they in power, Labour would “settle”’ the question of Scottish independence without a referendum.

Pay attention to this. Scottish voters are expected to put up and shut up, forfeit our democratic rights, and submit to Westminster rule, no matter who is in charge. The Tories and Labour alike see Scottish interests as an irritating distraction to be quashed.

Scottish independence is the only chance Scotland has of changing the course of direction. We could stay in the UK and have our interests “settled” for us as Brexit ravages the economy. Or we could choose not to settle, and make our vote really matter.

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