Keir Starmer has a “huge mountain to climb” at the next general election and reclaiming crucial Scottish seats will be his “biggest test” as Labour leader, a former party chairman has said.
The party currently holds just one out of the 59 Westminster seats available in Scotland, having lost the majority to the SNP.
To put that into context, just under five years ago Labour held 41 seats north of the Tweed and Scotland was regarded as the bedrock from which the party could build national governments.
Clive Soley, who was party chairman during the 1997-2001 New Labour heyday, said winning former Scottish heartlands back would be “crucial” to forming a Labour government.
Clive, now Lord Soley, said: “Starmer has a huge mountain to climb if Labour is to win the next election.
“He knows that Scotland is crucial to Labour’s hopes for government so expect to see and hear more from him and the Labour team.
“This will be one of his biggest tests – and he knows it.”
The Labour peer said key to success in Scotland would be “rebuilding the belief in internationalism” as opposed to nationalist politics.
He added: “It is not impossible to rebuild that tradition of success in Scotland by building on the strengths of a Union that has a reputation as the most successful political and economic union in the world.”
Sir Keir has previously acknowledged the challenge he and the Labour Party face in Scotland.
I’m not going to be leader of the Labour Party sitting in London telling Scottish Labour and the people of Scotland what they ought to be thinking.”
Sir Keir Starmer
In a recent interview with the Record he said: “We’ve got a huge mountain to climb, I don’t doubt that.
“My leadership bid was about uniting the party, being effective and relentlessly focusing on winning the next election.”
Under Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband there were accusations that the Scottish Labour Party was seen as nothing more than a “branch office” in London, something Sir Keir said he wants to change.
“I’m not going to be leader of the Labour Party sitting in London telling Scottish Labour and the people of Scotland what they ought to be thinking”, he said.
“In conjunction with Scottish Labour, we ought to be making the case of more devolution of powers to Scotland. Not going down the independence route but not blindly defending the status quo because of it.”
See here to find out out why Lord Soley believes Sir Keir Starmer can be the next prime minister.