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Labour conference: Starmer to blast cavalier Tories and SNP’s poor record in keynote speech

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LABOUR is the safest option to protect Scotland’s interests and unite the country, Keir Starmer is expected to emphasise tomorrow. 

The leader of the Labour party will make his keynote address in Brighton tomorrow afternoon, where he will argue that the “cavalier” Tories are endangering the union and Nicola Sturgeon cannot be trusted to protect Scotland based on her party’s record.

The leader of the Labour party will criticise both administrations and argue that Labour is the solution to a united country, and a better deal for Scotland, in his conference speech today.

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Mr Starmer, who has faced a turbulent party conference in Brighton, will tell delegates this afternoon that Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson are in “lockstep” to divide the country.

He will also set out how he thinks he is a credible alternative to Boris Johnson, and attempt to distance himself from the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn.

In the most important political speech of his career, Sir Keir will claim “Labour will be back in business”, able to grapple with the big issues facing the country, including recovering from the pandemic and tackling climate change.

Allies of the Labour leader said the speech will show how the party has changed since Mr Corbyn led it to electoral disaster in 2019.

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The speech will be the biggest Sir Keir has delivered during a leadership tenure which has coincided with coronavirus restrictions preventing him from addressing large audiences.

He will say: “I believe in the union of the nations of these islands, but we have a cavalier government that is placing that in peril.”

“Scotland is in the unfortunate position of having two bad governments – the Tories at Westminster and the SNP at Holyrood.”

He will call out the First Minister and her government’s record, with his speech anticipated to include: “When Nicola Sturgeon took office, she said she wanted to be judged on her record.

“These days with the poorest in society less well educated and less healthy, and the tragedy of so many drug-related deaths, we hear rather less about the SNP’s record.

“The SNP and the Tories walk in lockstep, they both exploit the constitutional divide for their own ends.

“Labour is the party that wants to bring our nations together.”

Mr Starmer is also set to emphasise how the party has changed under his leadership, and how he plans to lead it to success in the next general election.

He will say: ““I see the government lost in the woods with two paths beckoning. One path leads back where we came from. None of the lessons of Covid are heeded. The divisions and flaws that were brutally exposed by the pandemic all worsen.

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“But there is another path down which we address the chronic problems revealed by Covid with the kindness and the togetherness that got us through.

“That path leads to a future in which a smart government enlists the brilliance of scientific invention to create an economy in which people are healthy and well-educated…A contribution society in which everyone has their role to play.”

He is expected to tell the conference that the ambitions for a better society are often not balanced with the plans for a prosperous economy, but will say that both are possible.

Mr Starmer will say: “Too often in the history of this party our dream of the good society falls foul of the belief that we will not run a strong economy.

“But you don’t get one without the other. And under my leadership we are committed to both. I can promise you that under my leadership Labour will be back in business.

“The questions we face in Britain today, are big ones. How we emerge from the biggest pandemic in a century, how we make our living in a competitive world, the climate crisis, our relationship with Europe, the future of our union…

“These are big issues. But our politics is so small. So our politics needs to grow to meet the scale of the challenge.”

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A party source said: “Keir’s speech will be noticeably different from what you’ve heard from Labour in recent years. It will be more optimistic, more focused on the future, more outward looking.

“The speech will be a demonstration of the way the Labour party has changed. It will be a clear indication that Labour will never again go into an election with a manifesto that isn’t a serious plan for government.”

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