LABOUR leader Keir Starmer had an interview yesterday with BBC Scotland's Sunday Show. It was meant to be his big chance to connect with voters in Scotland, to demonstrate that he understands the wishes and concerns of the Scottish electorate. It's not merely that Starmer missed the point, he showed no real awareness of the general direction in which the point lied. It's safe to say that he didn't score a bullseye, if it had been a darts match his dart would have ended up in the eye of an audience member.

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To all intents and purposes it was like listening to a Conservative party leader. This is a man who in his desperation to court Brexit-backing voters in northern England is determined to keep the UK out of the European Union – and will not revisit the questions of British membership of the Customs Union. He seemingly expects voters in overwhelmingly pro-European Scotland to go along with this for reasons which are entirely opaque.

Starmer seems to think that the people of Scotland will vote for Tory policies as long as they are being proposed by the Labour party. This is a Labour leader who has learned absolutely nothing from the electoral collapse of Labour in Scotland since 2014.

The National: Keir Starmer (left) with Scottish Labour leader Anas SarwarKeir Starmer (left) with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar

The attitude is still very much: "It's not me, it's you." The Labour party can continue to keep doing what it has always done, it's the voters of Scotland who need to change.

This was most evident when Starmer was asked what he would say to former Labour voters in Scotland who have switched en masse to the SNP. Starmer's reply was exactly what we would have expected from a Conservative leader and showed not the slightest awareness of the Scottish perspective. He said: "I really don't think that everyone across Scotland is completely immune from the cost of living, isn't bothered about their bills, doesn't worry about their shopping, doesn't worry about their mortgage, they're simply thinking about independence, I just don't accept that."

And there went that dart into the eye of an audience member.

Of course people in Scotland are worried about the cost of living and all the rest, but the point that Starmer willfully refuses to accept is that people in Scotland who support independence overwhelmingly do so because they see independence as the means by which these other issues can be addressed, and addressed in a fairer and above all more accountable way than is possible within the sclerotic structures of a systematically unjust British state. Here, privilege and patronage rule supreme. As we have seen over the past few years, any democratic safeguards have been hollowed out to the point of uselessness.

However it was in his reply to a question about the democratic route to another independence vote that Starmer revealed his real quasi-colonialist patrician and patronising attitude. He insisted that the UK is a voluntary Union, but refused to specify any mechanism through which Scotland could bring about a referendum on independence. He went further, insisting that he would still oppose another independence referendum even if the Supreme Court were to rule that Holyrood could hold one without Westminster's permission. He told the interviewer, and by extension the people of Scotland, what our priorities really ought to be.

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It's the exact same insulting denial of Scottish democracy that we have come to know and loathe from Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and Rishi Sunak. We don't need some London politician to tell Scotland what its priorities ought to be, the voters of this country are perfectly capable of deciding that for themselves.

Starmer in his arrogant ignorance maintained that if the Supreme Court does rule in favour of the Scottish Government this still does not settle the political question of whether there should be another referendum.

But that was the political question put to the people of Scotland in the Holyrood election of May 2022. The political question is settled. The people responded resoundingly in the affirmative, electing a Scottish Parliament with its largest ever pro-independence majority. It is not for Starmer or any other Westminster politician to gainsay them.