Starmer to set out Scotland’s ‘down payment’ under Labour’s national renewal

Sir Keir Starmer has set out Labour’s “down payment” to Scotland’s voters as he promised a “decade of national renewal”.

However SNP leader John Swinney has demanded any incoming Labour government holds an emergency budget immediately after the General Election to bolster NHS funds.

Labour leader Sir Keir is joining Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on Friday to launch his party’s first six promises to Scotland ahead of the July 4 vote.

It includes a pledge to deliver economic stability to keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as “low as possible”, while investing in the NHS to tackle waiting times.

The party has previously set out plans for publicly-owned GB Energy, which is to be based in Scotland, and Sir Keir said his party will improve access to apprenticeships and support first-time buyers.

Ahead of a speech by Sir Keir north of the border on Friday, Mr Sarwar said the plans will put Scotland “at the heart of government” in Westminster.

Sir Keir said: “For too long Scotland has been failed by this out of touch and incompetent Tory Government – but change is possible with Labour.

“Labour will deliver a decade of national renewal and the steps set out today are our down payment on that promise.

“From cutting bills to boosting pay to protecting the NHS, the Labour government I lead will be on your side and relentlessly focused on the issues that matter to you.

“Scotland can do more than send a message at this election – you can send a Labour government with Scotland’s voice at its heart.”

However, First Minister Mr Swinney claimed Sir Keir is “offering no change at all” and has challenged the Labour leader to produce an emergency budget to reverse “Tory austerity cuts”.

Mr Swinney said: “The Tories have trashed the economy and decimated funding for public services.

General Election campaign 2024
First Minister John Swinney urged Sir Keir Starmer to plan an emergency budget if he enters Number 10 on July 5 (Michael Boyd/PA)

“The SNP is calling for an immediate emergency budget following the election to deliver the real change that people in Scotland want to see – more funding for the NHS, the reversal of Tory austerity cuts and meaningful investment in economic growth, including green energy.

“Keir Starmer must say whether he will back our calls. Any delay would see a Labour Party government continue to impose Tory cuts and mean Starmer is offering no change at all.

“Scotland needs a strong SNP voice at Westminster to stand up for Scotland’s priorities and hold a Starmer government to account if it continues to impose Tory austerity cuts, Brexit, creeping NHS privatisation, and seeks to deny Scotland’s right to choose our own future.”

Craig Hoy MSP, Scottish Conservative chairman, said: “Labour has already been at the heart of government in Scotland for all the wrong reasons, because Anas Sarwar’s party has regularly backed the failed SNP-Green coalition on some of their worst decisions.

“On raising taxes, the disastrous gender self-ID legislation, the illiberal Hate Crimes Act and profoundly damaging rent controls, Scottish Labour MSPs have lined up to back the SNP.

“Their promise not to work with the nationalists is worthless, since the last time they said that, they promptly paired up with them in Dumfries and Galloway.

“In key seats up and down the country, it’s only the Scottish Conservatives who can beat the SNP.”