I WOULD like to start 2024 on a positive note. After a holiday period completely wiped out by having Covid I feel the need to do so. In that case, let me suggest what Scotland can unambiguously do to improve its wellbeing this year. It can send a message of rejection to Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.

Scotland has, of course, done this before. It sent Ed Miliband’s Labour Party such a note. It was not much kinder to Jeremy Corbyn. But Starmer thinks Scotland has warmed to him and that this is the moment for Labour to return triumphant, most especially across the central belt. My suggestion is that the message of rejection has to be clear and certain. It has to be that Labour’s Tory-lite policies do nothing for Scotland, and that Scotland wants nothing to do with them.

Before setting out why, let me make clear that I am not suggesting that anyone vote Tory as a result: they are so incompetent that doing so would be incomprehensible.

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Nor am I saying that the SNP is a great choice. It has not covered itself in glory of late. Its last leader was not good, her economic policies (most of which still remain) were poor at best, whilst their track record in government suggests “improvement is needed”. They are, however, pro-Scotland and the Scottish, in favour of proportional representation, and take independence seriously.

The LibDems only score on one of those three points, which is not good, and a vote for the Greens would be wasted at the forthcoming General Election. Neither offers much hope then, so the SNP is the best on offer.

But, saying that, why is Labour so bad? I offer five reasons, but could add many more.

The first is that whatever principles Labour once had have been abandoned by Starmer. He has backtracked on all the promises he made to become Labour leader and not a hint of social democratic principle remains in what he is now offering.

The National: Sir Keir Starmer is focusing on making Labour electable

You should recall that this is also true of the Labour Party itself, which is no longer committed to working people, tackling inequality and creating a fairer society. Instead, its constitution says its primary purpose is to get Labour MPs elected, and that’s all it is now about. Starmer wants to be prime minister for reasons that no one knows, and that is all that Labour is telling us. Voting for a megalomaniac without a cause has never been a good political idea.

Nor is it a good idea to vote for a party that is dedicated to making you worse off. The current parliament is the first in modern history where people will be worse off at the end of it than they were at the beginning. Labour is very obviously planning to repeat that performance.

Rachel Reeves, the Labour shadow chancellor, has said she is dedicated to balancing the government’s books – whilst refusing to raise a penny in additional tax from the wealthy of the UK. That inevitably means that there will have to be massive government spending cuts that will hit Scotland as hard as anywhere else. Schools, the NHS, social care and justice will all suffer, as will everyone working in them. A recession will be the consequence. Why would anyone vote for that?

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Then there is the small issue of interest rates to consider. As was noted in the FT in the last week, UK inflation over the last six months is already way down, and below the tolerated 2% level.

Despite that, the Bank of England is not expected to cut interest rates to below 4% this year – punishing the people and businesses of the UK as a whole for borrowing when there is literally no reason for them to do so. You would expect Labour to have something to say about this when it is such a massive issue, but all Rachel Reeves (a former Bank of England employee, below) will say is that she will support the Bank in whatever it wants to do – which right now is to deliver a recession in the UK.

Again, why vote Labour in that case?

The National: Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

After that there is the small issue of pay, which is still dragging behind inflation over the last two or more years. If Labour was on the side of the people of this country, you would have heard it supporting pay rises. Instead, it has done the exact opposite. It really is the case that it wants us all to be worse off.

And finally, there’s climate change. Labour said it would borrow £28 billion a year to fund the essential investment we need to tackle this. But because of Tory attacks it is crumbling in the face of criticism it could easily bat off. Instead, it seems that it would rather sell out on the future of the planet so that it might balance its books now. As definitions of a lack of vision combined with gross irresponsibility go, that takes some beating.

Of course, people in Scotland could vote for Labour. They should if they want a person without a political compass to be in charge of a UK national government that will have as its primary aim the destruction of public services, the creation of a recession, cuts in real wage rates and the abandonment of care for the environment, whilst all the time pandering to the whims for bankers and being utterly indifferent to the needs of Scotland.

If that list is what you want, please do vote Labour. If not, please prepare to give them a bloody nose at the ballot box, because that is what they will need.