KEIR Starmer has been panned after suggesting he does not mind if people brand him a “fiscal conservative”.

During an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Starmer was asked if he was “relaxed” with the term being attributed to him.

He repeatedly dodged the question on whether or not he was happy with it, at first saying he was a “responsible, Labour politician” and that he “wants a responsible Labour government”.

Starmer was grilled on a range of subjects on the show including his plans for the economy, public services and child benefits.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer needs to 'show he's on the side of working people'

He told the BBC: “What I would do if we were in power is I would be absolutely laser-focused on growing the economy, I would also be laser-focused on reforming our public services to make sure we take the weight off our public services.”

Kuenssberg continued to press the Labour leader on being labelled a “fiscal conservative” given he is clear on growing the economy before spending money and whether or not he had a problem with this.

“I don’t really want to get into a discussion on what other people might call it. I want to explain my position”, he said.

The host asked the same question once again and Starmer said: “I don’t mind what label people put on me. I do want to make my argument.”

Starmer’s comments have since been slammed by the SNP, with MP Pete Wishart tweeting: “If it quacks like a ‘fiscal conservative’, etc. Starmer can’t even reject the label.”

He subsequently told The National: “This was quite an extraordinary exchange with Sir Keir Starmer as Laura Kuenssberg gave him multiple opportunities to deny he was a fiscal conservative, something he felt less than obliged to take up.

“This is the thing with Sir Keir’s Labour Party, they just cannot say anything that distinguishes them from the real Conservative Party.

“Scotland needs fiscal conservatism dismantled. Not endorsed.”

On public spending, Starmer criticised a lack of “long-term thinking”.

He said: “If all we do is simply patch up and keep going then we won’t fix the fundamentals and that’s why reform is so important.”

READ MORE: How the SNP can win Scottish voters back from Labour

He said the last Labour government “grew the economy and had tens of billions of pounds more to spend on our public services”, adding: “That’s what I want to replicate – to grow our economy so we’ve got that yield to put into our public services.

“But that has to start with responsible economics and it has to be coupled with reform.”

Child-benefit cap

Starmer was also asked about his stance on the two-child benefit cap. He said that Labour would not be altering the policy.

The policy means households claiming tax credit or universal credit are unbale to claim for a third or subsequent child born after April 6 2017.

The First Minister was also critical of Starmer and called out his stance on the policy on Twitter.

Humza Yousaf said: “Poverty experts say scrapping the two-child limit would lift up to 15,000 children in Scotland out of poverty.

“Why on earth is Starmer keeping this cruel Tory policy? Only @theSNP offer real change and the chance to escape Westminster control with independence.”

In response to the news, the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also tweeted: “No change, no hope.”

Expanding on his comments, Flynn also said: “The SNP is the only party offering real hope, real change – and a credible plan for sustained economic growth with independence.

“You don’t get economic growth by eroding it with Brexit, you don’t improve public services by starving them of cash, and you can’t compete on the green energy gold rush if you fail to invest.

“By copying these failed Tory policies, Keir Starmer will stunt the UK economy, harm public services and leave people poorer.”

He continued: “The UK is on the path to long-term decline, and millions are struggling with the cost of living – but all the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party have to offer is more pain and the same damaging policies that got the UK into this mess.

“The SNP is the only party offering a genuine alternative and real help with the cost of living. Only with the full powers of independence can Scotland secure sustained economic growth by rejoining the EU and maximising our renewable energy powerhouse potential.”