KEIR Starmer has used his keynote conference speech to make a direct pitch to Tory voters to join Labour – saying the party “fights for our Union”.

The Labour leader delivered his set-piece speech at the party’s conference in Liverpool, in which he pledged to grow Britain’s economy and reform public services.

He aimed a jibe at the SNP, saying Labour would face a “fight” from Humza Yousaf’s party, adding: “The SNP will regroup, of course they will. Once again they will wave away the lessons of history, try to present nationalism as a bridge to the world.

“We have to remind them it can barely provide a ferry to the Hebrides.”

And Starmer, who had been showered in glitter by a protester at the beginning of his speech, invited Conservative voters who looked on “in horror at the descent of your party into the murky waters of populism and conspiracy” to join Labour.

The National:

'Labour fights for the Union'

Starmer said: “So if you are a Conservative voter who despairs of this, if you look in horror at the descent of your party into the murky waters of populism and conspiracy, with no argument for economic change, if you feel our country needs a party that conserves, that fights for our Union, our environment, the rule of law, family life, the careful bond between this generation and the next, then let me tell you: Britain already has one.

“And you can join it. It’s this Labour Party.”

The party has also committed to plans to create a new publicly-owned energy company, headquartered in Scotland, if it wins the next election.

Referring to Labour’s Scottish by-election victory last week, Starmer added: “So let the message from Rutherglen ring out across Britain. Labour serves working people in Scotland because Labour serves working people across all these islands.”

“Scotland can lead the way to a Labour Government,” he said.

“But be under no illusions we must earn every vote, and we must understand that the Scottish people are not just looking at us; they’re also looking at Britain.

“The challenge of change remains but nonetheless, for the first time in a long time we can see the tide that is turning. Four nations that are renewing. Old wounds of division exploited by the Tories and the SNP beginning to heal.”

A major announcement in his speech came in the form of promising England the creation of more New Towns, should Labour form the next government.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer showered in glitter by protester as he begins conference speech

He said: “Sometimes the old Labour ideas are right for new times.

“So where there are good jobs, where there is good infrastructure, where there is good land for affordable homes, then we will get shovels in the ground, cranes in the sky, and build the next generation of Labour New Towns.”

Calling climate change an “opportunity we can’t pass up”, the Labour leader said the party wanted to reduce energy bills for UK households.

He added: “Clean British energy is cheaper than foreign fossil fuels. That means cheaper bills for every family in the country, but also a chance to make us more competitive across the board.

“Countries like America are using this gift to create manufacturing jobs the like of which we haven’t seen for decades, and they’re not the only ones.

“So when Rishi Sunak says row back on our climate mission, I say speed ahead.

“Speed ahead with investment, speed ahead with half a million jobs, speed ahead with great British energy.”

SNP social justice spokesperson David Linden said: "For all the empty rhetoric, Sir Keir Starmer remains wedded to Tory austerity cuts, Brexit and the same damaging Westminster policies that got the UK into this mess.

"Families are suffering from the soaring cost of living in the UK and need help right now - but Sir Keir failed to outline a single policy to help households this winter, and his admission the Labour Party will continue to impose a hard Tory Brexit will choke off economic growth permanently.

"In stark contrast, the Irish government today introduced many of the bold measures the SNP has been demanding to help families with the cost of living, including mortgage interest relief and an energy bill rebate - showing what independent countries of Scotland's size can achieve.

"It's clear neither of the Westminster parties are capable of offering the change Scotland needs - showing why independence is essential to building a fairer and wealthier future."

'Snake oil salesman'

Alba have said Starmer’s promises on energy were “snake oil”.

The National: Neale Hanvey

Neale Hanvey (above), Alba’s Westminster leader, said: “Scotland needs a party willing to challenge this Tory Government’s continued robbery of Scotland’s assets, and their refusal to deliver urgent and meaningful investment in our vast carbon capture potential.

“Scotland needs an economic strategy that delivers North Sea oil and gas jobs, not one that deletes them.

“It’s completely unforgivable that the daft Greens, the SNP and now the UK Labour Party place climate virtue signalling before Scotland’s North Sea oil and gas industry as any loss in production here will only lead to increasingly costly imports from the far reaches of the globe."

“Rishi Sunak is seizing Scotland’s oil wealth whilst Keir Starmer is trying to sell Scots the same old snake oil that a UK Labour Government would be on their side.

“Scotland can’t afford to fall into the trap of mediocre Labour or Tory governments any longer.”