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Election 2024 live: Keir Starmer and John Swinney vow to work together despite ‘differences’

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Election 2024 live: Keir Starmer and John Swinney vow to work together despite ‘differences’

Analysis

Clock is ticking on Labour’s pledge to deliver for Scottish voterspublished at 17:21

James Cook
Scotland editor

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer in EdinburghImage source, PA Media

There
was a lot of cheering, a lot of hollering and a lot of applause as the new
prime minister strode into a room full of friendly faces here in Edinburgh.

There
was a lot of red too — jackets, dresses and ties on the new Scottish MPs and
their supporters.

Sir
Keir Starmer said his visit, within 48 hours of being invited by the King to
form a government, was evidence that he was “making a start” on keeping his
commitment to Scotland.

It was a moment to savour for Scottish Labour after years
of frustration — even, at times, despair — in opposition.

For Sir Keir, this is a whistle-stop tour to Scotland, Northern
Ireland and Wales before meeting English mayors on Tuesday.

The message is pretty obvious — to stress the ‘United’ in
Kingdom.

But the work isn’t over. The party now hopes to win control of
the Scottish government from the SNP in the 2026 Holyrood elections.

That means delivering the change Labour has promised Scottish
voters as quickly as possible.

It will be a huge challenge when the party has pledged to stick
to Conservative spending plans and some of its welfare polices.

The clock is already ticking.

In Westminster elections, Scotland has now swung dramatically
from Labour to the SNP and back again in less than a decade. That has led to
some painful soul searching for supporters of Scottish independence.

But it’s also a reminder to Labour that voters can change their
minds pretty quickly.

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