New campaign

Starmer steps up bid to lure Scots back to Labour

Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer will tour Scotland (pic: Terry Murden)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is to launch a new online campaign to win back those who switched to the SNP in a bid to secure more than 20 MPs north of the border.

His director of strategy Deborah Mattinson is working with senior figures in Scotland to deliver tailored messages to key groups who could form a new bedrock of support for Labour as it seeks to win power at Westminster and Holyrood.

It claims there is a revival in Scotland, but senior figures acknowledge that a lot of work is needed, given that it has only one of the 59 Westminster seats.

Sir Keir’s own image is seen as weak, with the latest research by YouGov finding his popularity had fallen by 22 points. The SNP has been targeting his party’s leaning towards Tory policies on key issues such as Brexit and tuition fees. Even with the Labour party there are those who feel this has left voters unable to tell the difference between Tory and Labour.

There was also some discontent with the party north of the border when it emerged that Sir Keir had effectively sacked the previous Scottish leader Richard Leonard for being too left wing. Constitutionally, the UK leader cannot do this and it left the Scottish Labour exposed to claims that it was just a branch office of London.

The drive to raise its game in Scotland will be accompanied by so-called “listening tours” with Sir Keir joining Scottish leader Anas Sarwar.

Labour’s first big test is a potential by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West which may be triggered by the pending suspension of Margaret Ferrier, the former SNP MP who was sentenced to 270 hours of community service for breaking Covid laws.

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