Keir Starmer’s dismissal of deals between Labor and SNP has an air of ‘you have no authority here, Jackie Weaver’ – Laura Waddell

Parish clerk Jackie Weaver took the internet by storm after footage of Handforth Parish Council’s heated Zoom meeting showed her booting out two troublesome council members (Picture: PA)

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 Labor using Starmer’s visit to Glasgow to get out to the Scottish electorate?

Oh. That Labor won’t do a deal with the SNP at any level of government, council or otherwise. How deeply uninspiring.

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Nevermind the practical consideration that Scottish councils generally depend on coalitions to get anything done, and Labor and the SNP already share power in several.

Starmer told the Daily Record: “No coalition between Labor 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 Labor intends to continue its long, slow slide into irrelevancy.

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Keir Starmer rejects coalition deals between SNP and Labor ahead of council ele…

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 Labor to languish in the dust.

Labor 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, Labor are still clinging onto a pretense that pro-independence election results are a fluke, rather than a trajectory.

I’ve written before about UK Labor 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 Labor 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 Labor are managing to successfully spite an opposing political party so much as thumbing their noses at Scottish votes in general – not least when Labor leadership ums and ahs about ‘allowing’ the Scots to have another independence referendum.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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