SCOTTISH tree huggers have slammed Keir Starmer after it was reported that he said “I hate tree huggers” during a shadow cabinet meeting.

The Labour leader reportedly made the comment in a meeting the day after he gave a major speech on Labour’s energy policies.

The party’s climate and net zero spokesperson Ed Miliband was reportedly telling his colleagues of the change his policies would bring, but a source told The Sunday Times that Starmer wasn’t impressed.

The source said: “He was more interested in creating sustainable new jobs to replace jobs in old sectors that were being lost. He then said he was not interested in tree huggers, before adding to everyone’s surprise, ‘In fact, I hate tree huggers’.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Tree Hugging Championship – taking place later this month – said Starmer’s comments were “disappointing”, adding that the term ‘tree huggers’ is “derogatory”.

The National:

Hugh Asher said: “This term is increasingly used to mock or belittle people who are passionate about environmentalism, conservation, or are advocating for the protection of nature.

“The origins of the term can be traced back to the Chipko environmental movement of the early 1970s, when activists were known to physically embrace trees to prevent them from being cut down.

“It is now more commonly used in this derogatory way to portray environmentalists as overly idealistic or extremist in their views, to undermine the validity of their concerns, and as a way to dismiss and ridicule those advocating for change, portraying them as irrational or out of touch.

“At the Scottish Tree Hugging Championships we like to celebrate tree huggers and tree hugging instead. We host a friendly event each July that is all about having light-hearted fun, but also about promoting greater understanding about the benefits of trees for health and raising awareness of the importance of nature and the natural environment.”

This year’s Scottish Tree Hugging Championships are being held on July 29 in the woods around Lochan na Dunaich near Salen, a small coastal village on the shores of Loch Sunart.

The event is run in association with the World Tree Hugging Championships, held annually in Finland.

Open to both adults and children, there are three rounds to the competition and competitors take part in all three.

The first round is speed hugging, which is most trees hugged in one minute in a clearly marked area. The second is the most dedicated hug, showing “presence, intention, love and respect” and the final round is a freestyle, with the most creative hug winning.

Labour have denied Starmer made the comment. 

For more information on the event, follow this link