LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer’s 12,000 word essay on his plans for Labour was finally unveiled last night – and it mentioned Scotland just three times.

Starmer published the piece – titled The Road Ahead – in the run-up to his party conference in Brighton, amid an internal row over membership rules on voting.

Yesterday former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he backed a Labour leadership election if Starmer goes ahead with the proposals to scrap the one-member-on-vote system that led to Jeremy Corbyn’s win in 2015.

In his essay, Starmer said he wants Labour to be “Britain’s bricks and mortar” and argued his party can’t “wait around for the public to decide we are right”.

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The piece is light on policy, but sees Starmer set out 10 principles which he hopes would form a new contract between Labour and the British public. At its heart is what he calls a “contribution society” where "everyone has a part to play”.

The Tories immediately jumped on the essay, with Oliver Dowden, Tory co-chair, saying: “Labour are talking to themselves about themselves. They’re all essays and no action.”

Despite Labour’s failing electoral fortunes in Scotland since the 2014 independence referendum, Starmer fails to set out specific actions to win back the former heartland in his 12,000 words.

Prior to the 2015 General Election Labour had some 41 seats in Scotland – they lost 40 of them overnight, leaving Ian Murray their sole MP in the country. In 2017 they won back a few constituencies but at the snap election of 2019 their success was lost, with Murray once again returned as Scottish Labour’s only representative at Westminster.

The National:

Starmer has made a handful of visits to Scotland since his election last year and appears supportive of Anas Sarwar, who took over Scottish Labour following Richard Leonard’s resignation.

Political analysts predict that without a reversal of electoral fortunes in Scotland, Labour would have to be able to win safe Tory seats in England like those belonging to Jacob Rees-Mogg – and the polls are not pleasant reading for Starmer at the moment, with recent Scottish surveys finding as few as 17% of Scots would back them at the next General Election.

In his essay, Starmer’s three references to Scotland all come in the form of attacks on the SNP.

On page 19, the Labour chief says the rise of “the multi-headed hydra of nationalism” has been “most immediately damaging to our country”. He says the SNP’s “failures” are similar to those of the Tories, pointing at life expectancy gaps between deprived and affluent areas, progress in closing the attainment gap and funding cuts for alcohol and drugs services.

On page 30, Starmer takes aim at the Westminster government – saying it prefers to create “absurd cultural battles” rather improve the UK, and has “no plans for how to make Brexit work for Britain”. He accuses the Tories of putting the Union “at risk”.

He compares the Scottish Government to this, and writes: “In Scotland, the SNP has been in control for even longer, underachieving while distracted by an obsession with nationalism. Britain deserves better."

The National:

In response, the SNP's deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald said Starmer is "completely out of touch" with both Scotland and his party members.

“He ruined his reputation here when he backed Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit," she told The National.

“Whilst he and the rest of the Labour Party continue to deny democracy and remain on the political sidelines with Douglas Ross and the Tories, his party will continue its slide towards becoming nothing more than an irrelevant fringe party in Scotland."