The National:

KEIR Starmer is beginning to worry me. Take his performance today. He has done two things, each of which is wrong in itself.

First, he has apparently told his MPs to not talk about Brexit. And then he refused to condemn Matt Hancock MP, the UK Health Secretary, for having been found to have broken the law last week when given the opportunity to do so by Sophy Ridge on Sky.

Why are these issues worrying? Because both reveal that Starmer will not do the job required of the Leader of the Opposition, which is to hold the Government to account.

On Brexit, around half of the electorate in the UK as a whole still believes Brexit was a mistake. Scotland is lucky to have electable politicians willing to say so. But within the first-past-the-post system at Westminster Starmer is, by refusing to discuss this issue, choosing to deny half the electorate of England and Wales the opportunity to express their real opinions. 

As importantly, this fact, when combined with Labour’s tribalism and its opposition to proportional representation, means that he has every intention of continuing to deny this right to decide. 

READ MORE: Conservative ‘corruption’ puts UK politics at a major turning point, SNP MP says

In the process, by choosing to ignore Tory failings on Brexit he basically suggests that they have got things right. In that case, he effectively suggests that he has nothing to say, and so guarantees that the Tories will go on winning election after election. No Leader of the Opposition should make that their aim, but Starmer appears to do so. 

The National:

If this is bad, then his failure to demand Matt Hancock’s resignation is worse. Last week a Judicial Review in the English Courts ruled that Hancock had broken the law by refusing to publish on time many of the contracts issued for PPE required for NHS and other staff tackling coronavirus. There are still contracts not published. There are still, as a result, doubts about the legality of many of the contracts in question. Doubts about cronyism have also been raised, time and again. And on top of all this NHS staff did not and still do not have the PPE that they need. And yet, despite all that Starmer quite explicitly said that he did not think Hancock should resign.

Hancock is one of the minsters responsible for tens of thousands of excess Covid deaths in the UK. Some of these deaths arose because of inadequate PPE. Many of those who have died have been health and care workers and in almost every one of their cases, PPE may have been an issue.

We now know that Hancock acted unlawfully with regard to the contacts for the purchase of PPE. And yet Starmer says he should stay.

READ MORE: Matt Hancock refuses to resign over unlawful ruling on Covid contracts

Not only is this Starmer not doing his job properly, it means he is turning a blind eye to law-breaking. In the process, he appears to be ignoring the corruption that this non-disclosure might have hidden. For a lawyer, as Starmer is, to do that is staggering.

So what does this say to Scotland?

First, thank goodness it has a wider choice of political parties and can choose to ignore Labour if it wishes. Second, Scotland should be grateful for the proportional representation that it has got. Third, the encouragement of a diversity of views that PR delivers is vital and must continue after independence. Fourth, the rule of law is vital in politics: Scotland will be very aware of this during the coming weeks. 

But most of all, what this says is that Scotland should turn its back on the failed Westminster parliamentary system that has nothing to offer it any more. It’s not just Johnson who makes that case; Starmer does too. 

Richard Murphy is a chartered accountant, director of Tax Research LLP and Visiting Professor of Accounting at the University of Sheffield.