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Opinion Labour’s right turn won’t win in Scotland

After Keir Starmer has made his politics plain for all to see, CHRIS STEPHENS MP argues that the SNP is now the more progressive party on the NHS, geopolitics, nuclear weapons and workers’ rights

IN a general election year, you’d be foolish to predict anything. However, I’ll go ahead and predict with some certainty and likelihood that Britain's electorate is sick to the back teeth of the Tories — and will show them the door.
 
And who can blame them? Over the last 14 years, under countless Tory Prime Ministers Scotland did not vote for, Scottish households have faced austerity, a hard Brexit, a crumbling economy, Boris Johnson, and Liz Truss.
 
Their time is up, and Britain should rejoice in that knowledge. Sadly though, what is set to replace them shouldn’t excite the electorate.
 
Under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, the Labour Party has abandoned its founding principles for a chance at power. The party that was created off the back of the working class has completely abandoned its values — becoming almost indistinguishable from the party they’re trying to replace.
 
They see England’s crumbling public services, the skyrocketing prices, the stagnating wages — and pledge more of the same. They see the Tories offering tax cuts to the rich and multinational companies while planning for £18 billion of public service cuts — and pledge more of the same.
 
They see Rishi Sunak wanting to cap child benefits but not senior bankers’ bonuses — and pledge more of the same.

They see the British government refusing to properly invest in the green energy renewable gold rush — and pledge more of the same.
 
They see tens of thousands of children, women and men being killed in Gaza by bombs sold by Britain — and pledge more of the same.
 
They see billions of pounds being thrown down the drain for Britain’s nuclear deterrent — and pledge more of the same.
 
And they see the NHS being put on the table to private investors, risking the future of the sector — and pledge more of the same.
 
It’s no wonder voters across Scotland are asking: what is the point of Labour? In contrast to Starmer’s Labour Party, the values of the SNP are clear and absolute.
 
For example, our values on the NHS are clear. The Scottish government secured a fair pay deal for NHS staff, meaning not a single day of activity was lost to strike action — in stark contrast to the rest of Britain.
 
But instead of reversing 14 years of Tory cuts, the Labour Party has proudly boasted that they are going to “hold the door wide open” to NHS privatisation.
 
We’ve even heard of one private healthcare investor boast that Labour will “kick start private sector investment much more proactively than the Tories were able to do.” Be in no doubt, a vote for Labour is a vote for NHS privatisation.
 
In contrast, under the SNP, the founding principles of our NHS will always be protected. An NHS free at the point of need  —  for the public good, not private profit.
 
Our values are also very clear on the ongoing conflict in Gaza. It was the SNP Westminster Group that dragged the Labour Party to the position they currently hold regarding an immediate ceasefire. And once again, it is the SNP who are leading the calls for an end to arms sales in Israel.
 
However, Westminster’s refusal to provide any meaningful leadership on the conflict, and their failure to even allow a proper vote on a ceasefire and an end to collective punishment, sums up just how broken the system is.
 
But as the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza continues to unfold, we in the SNP promise to raise our voice in Westminster for an end to the killing and an immediate end to arms sales to Israel.
 
We need also to hold Labour to its promises towards workers. While the New Deal document is light on detail, the Workers’ Rights and Definitions Bill points to how the government can eliminate zero-hours contracts, legislate for a single definition of a worker, and end the short-term shift notice changes that cover up bad management practice across the economy.
 
With the general election looming, people across Scotland can see the work we’re doing to protect Scotland from the worst of Westminster’s cuts. And the more people in Scotland see Starmer’s values, the less enthusiasm there is for a party that now stands for economic decline, Brexit, and NHS privatisation.
 
We have every right to be confident of winning the election in Scotland, but the SNP has never been a party that rests on its laurels. The prize we seek is far too great.
 
When voters go to the polls, whenever that may be, they should know that it is only the SNP that will put Scotland first, stand up for our values, protect our NHS, and progress our journey to independence. Because these are our values and the values of Scotland.

Chris Stephens is SNP MP for Glasgow South West — @ChrisStephens.

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