Scotland can lead the way to a Labour government, Sir Keir Starmer has claimed in an appeal to bring the nation’s voters back to his party.
But the Labour leader attempted to demonstrate he is not complacent about winning support north of the border, claiming his party “must earn every vote” from an SNP which will regroup to fight.
Sir Keir reached out to Scottish voters in his speech to Labour’s conference in Liverpool, after his party’s recent victory in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.
Labour’s Michael Shanks took the seat – vacated by former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier after a recall petition – with more than double the votes of SNP candidate Katy Loudon.
“The challenge of change remains but nonetheless, for the first time in a long time, we can see the tide that is turning. Four nations that are renewing. Old wounds of division exploited by the Tories and the SNP beginning to heal.
“So let the message from Rutherglen ring out across Britain. Labour serves working people in Scotland because Labour serves working people across all these islands.”
The Labour leader referred to the Union as a “flame now reignited to face a modern age of insecurity”, as he praised Scottish skills and ingenuity and reiterated his desire to base a new publicly-owned energy company, Great British Energy, in Scotland.
Elsewhere in his speech, Sir Keir warned Labour will face a “fight” from the SNP at the next election.
“Conference, it will be a fight,” he said.
“The SNP will regroup, of course they will. Once again they will wave away the lessons of history, try to present nationalism as a bridge to the world.”
In a joke aimed at the Scottish Government’s troubles with island ferry services, he added: “We have to remind them it can barely provide a ferry to the Hebrides.”