‘Politics can once again be a force for good’ - Keir Starmer

Across these islands we are bound by more than just geography. Our values, our history and a shared hope for the future pull us together.

However, after 12 years of Tory government, there is something else that can be found in every corner of the UK - frustration and a yearning for change.

Young people sick of the way good jobs and home ownership are harder to come by. Working people sick of paying more while getting less. And older people are worried sick about whether they will have dignity and support in retirement.

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It’s the same story wherever you go. Whether you’re in Edinburgh or Exeter, Derby or Dundee, people are sick of the status quo.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) and Anas Sarwar, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, during a visit to the Stalks & Stem store, a small business in Shawlands, Glasgow.

When asked why, the Tories and the SNP have a simple answer - blame each other.

Scotland’s two governments pretend to be locked in a Punch and Judy relationship - but the reality is they benefit from turning Scot on Scot, using it to prop up two divisive versions of our future.

But people aren’t laughing. They are demanding change

That is a message neither of Scotland’s governments want to hear.

Devolution has been a great Labour success story, but across the UK we've failed to learn its lessons.

For too long it mean't that everything outside Westminster could change but that the things at the centre could carry on with business as usual.

Because under the Tories, it is clear that the centre of power in the UK is out of touch with people’s values, out of line with their daily lives, and worryingly detatched from the basic questions of right and wrong.

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It is this Conservative Government that has failed to deliver prosperity and opportunity while riding roughshod over the devolution settlement.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP try to distract from a woeful record at home by doubling down on an obsession with division.

The SNP and the Tories have become masters in stoking up division to mask their own failures to deliver.

This must end.

They have no real answers beyond their need to set neighbour against neighbour and nation against nation. They have put self-interest before the national interest. And all the while waiting lists get longer, bills get higher and people are left to pay the price.

What people across these isles really want for is the chance to build a better, fairer future for themselves and their families.

That is the path that Labour will take.

But before we can, we need to be ruthless about taking on the vested interests holding back Britain.

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I have experience of exactly that. As the country’s director of public prosecutions, I took on MPs over the expenses scandal. In doing so, I came face to face with a political elite that had turned inwards and forgotten who they served.

It’s time to break that system apart.

Tomorrow, we will begin to set out exactly how the next Labour government will meet that challenge. Gordon Brown and the Commission on the UK’s Future will publish proposals for the biggest ever transfer of control from Westminster back to the British people.

Building on their work, the next Labour government will hand powers to towns, cities, regions and nations that will reignite our economy. And at the same time, we will scrap unaccountable ones in Westminster to restore trust in politics.

This is a matter of personal conviction for me. I have always believed that the people best placed to decide what works in Stirling, Sunderland or Swansea are the people there. If we expect these places to drive growth we must first hand them the keys.

But as well as bringing people closer to decision making, I want to change the very idea of who our politics serves.

I want to roll up our sleeves and run towards the challenges our country faces - the cost-of-living crisis, restoring stability and growth to our economy, and restoring trust in our politics.

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So rather than divide Scotland around the SNP’s obsession, Labour can unite every corner of these islands around the promise of change.

All of that can be done with a changed Scotland, in a renewed United Kingdom.

It starts by pushing power out and making our politicians accountable to the public again.

Under, the next Labour government, Scotland will no longer watch on in horror as Prime Ministers mark their own homework on standards and spending. Whether Partygate or the staggering amounts of money doled out to mates of ministers in crony contracts, the ethical rot that leaves voters feeling distant from politics will end. And by strengthening Scotland's position, we will make sure that every layer of government across our country works together and co-operates rather than competes for power and resources.

This week will be the start of a journey that will see power pushed out of Westminster and standards driven up. The start of showing how politics can once again be a force for good.

The start of Scotland and the whole UK becoming fairer, greener, more dynamic. But more than that – it will be a chance to end that status quo that is holding back so many people in Britain.

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