THE Labour leadership has said it is “not worried” about convincing pro-independence supporters who may lend their vote to the party at the next General Election to back the Union.

The comments, made by Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar before being seconded by UK Labour leader Keir Starmer, came as the pair were asked about independence support remaining steady at around 48% in the polls – despite declining support for the SNP.

Speaking to the media after a General Election campaign launch in Glasgow, Starmer and Sarwar also refused to say where in Scotland their touted “GB Energy” company would be based – but insisted they were not “dangling it in front of the people of Aberdeen”.

Pushed on where exactly in Scotland the pledged publicly-owned GB Energy would be based, Starmer said: “As I say, we'll make that decision.

“Obviously, you can see the case in relation to Aberdeen. And I've been up there for a number of days to discuss with both the energy companies and the working people.”

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Pushed again, Starmer said: “We’ve said it will be based in Scotland. That's a really big commitment and an important one to me and to Anas.”

Starmer was then asked about polling showing that some two-fifths of SNP voters from 2019 would back Labour at the next General Election, and how he would convince those and other independence-supporting Labour voters to instead back the Union.

Answering in his UK leader’s place, Sarwar said: “I'm actually not worried about that. And the reason why is, if you think about people that are, for example, if you look at the age bracket that is the most significant support for independence in the polls, those that are aged 28 and under, for example, they have not lived a single day of their adult life in a stable United Kingdom.

“They've lived with Brexit chaos, Boris Johnson chaos, David Cameron chaos, Theresa May chaos, Liz Truss chaos. And now Rishi Sunak chaos.

“And so, look, we are in this election campaign, it's not about independence, it’s about change.”

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Sarwar (above) said people had seen independence as “the parachute out or the lifejacket,” adding: “And what we're saying directly to those people in this election campaign is, we may ultimately disagree on the final destination for Scotland, but we all agree we need change right now, so let's work together on this journey and deliver that change.

“We don't support independence. We don't support another referendum right now, but we recognise people in Scotland want change.”

Starmer then said: “And I agree with every word of that.

“There is this yearning for change, which is completely understandable. Against 14 years of a Tory government in Westminster, that can go very, very deep.

“But then there's the common ground, which is, if you want change, you can have change with a Labour government.

“Now there may be, as Anas says, differences as to what the final end destination is, but there's a lot of shared ground there in relation to change. Therefore, I understand that sentiment, if you like.”

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Starmer was then asked how he would turn “tactical support” for Labour into “permanent support” for his party and the Union. Again, Sarwar answered.

“We've got to take each election at a time, and the first opportunity for change in the General Election this year,” Sarwar said.

“And then the next opportunity for change will be the Holyrood election, now expected in 2026.

“We're going to do that with hard work, humility and with energy.”

He added: “With that same approach of humility, we're going to approach this election to try and persuade them to support us so we can deliver that change and then I hope through the hard work in government, by implementing that change, we can persuade them for the election that follows and then in future elections as well. But we've got to take it one stage at a time.”

Starmer said: “I agree completely with that.”

The pledge of “change,” a central theme of the Labour campaign launch in Glasgow on Friday, was dismissed by SNP MP Alison Thewliss, who said Starmer had “no vision beyond the status quo”.

Central Glasgow MP Thewliss said: "If an incoming Labour leader’s priorities don’t consist of scrapping cruel austerity-driven Tory policies, £9250 tuition fees, and the unelected House of Lords, then what exactly are they for?

“In reality Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party are prioritising no change at all and are offering nothing to the people of Scotland beyond more of the same.

“We have a rotten Tory government that deserves to be booted out of office, but it is clear that Sir Keir Starmer has no vision beyond the status quo.

“If Starmer thinks, by grace of wearing a red rosette instead of a blue one, he can coast on by in Scotland during this election without meaningfully separating himself from the Tories – he can think again.

“Thankfully though for Scottish people there is an alternative to the Tories with the SNP who won’t just stand up for these values, but have put their money where their mouth is – scrapping tuition fees in Scotland and committing over a billion pounds to support families affected by the worst of the Tories’ austerity policies.

“For a party that will never waver in its opposition to the Tories, and for a voice championing the values and protecting the policies Scottish people hold dear, vote SNP on July 4.”