Gaudie at the Scottish Labour Conference - day two
Updated: Mar 6
Keir Starmer gives his keynote address to party members gathered in Glasgow
By Anttoni James Numminen
Keir Starmer speaks at the conference. Photograph by Anttoni James Numminen.
Glasgow - Speaking at the Scottish Labour Party’s first in-person conference in three years, UK Labour leader Keir Starmer criticised the Tories and the SNP, saying of the latter: “the party of North Sea nationalism is now selling Scotland’s offshore wind to every foreign energy interest imaginable.”
The conference which started on Friday is being held at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and will last till Sunday afternoon.
In a wide-ranging speech, Starmer addressed issues such as Labour’s support for the Union, his ambition to become prime minister rather than the leader of the opposition while emphasising the importance of Scotland’s electorate in changing Westminster governments.
However, there was a ‘People’s Assembly’ event that took place at the same time as Starmer’s speech, outside the Buchanan Galleries.
Meanwhile, a fringe event organised by the Campaign for Socialism group – the Scottish arm of the Momentum faction, saw several MPs and MSPs critique the position of the current Labour leadership, including over their support for unionism, with ‘Devo Max’ suggested as an alternative.
Speaking at the event, Labour’s Ian Byrne MP who represents the Liverpool West Derby constituency, spoke about the lack of vision of the current party leadership on the economy and poverty.
He spoke in particular about the cost of living crisis and how trade unions and socialist policies were needed to lift people out of poverty: “fuel prices will rise and millions and millions of people are depending on us for the answers.”
Also speaking at the event were Mercedes Villalba MSP, former MSP Neil Findley, Glasgow councillor Matt Kerr and others.
The Scottish Labour Party’s leader, Anas Sarwar, spoke in his Friday speech about the future of the party as well as touching upon other subjects such as the war in Ukraine, describing the Russian invasion as “unprovoked and unjustifiable”.
Photo: Ian Byrne MP at the People Assembly event. Courtesy of AJN
However, with May’s local elections just under two months away, the party is attempting to reach people with a message that it is the party to challenge and stand up to SNP and Conservatives in local government.
Especially in Aberdeen, where Labour councillors were suspended for several years as a result of entering a coalition with the Conservative party, Labour likely faces an uphill struggle to keep its current seats.
The so-called ‘Aberdeen nine’ were readmitted to the party under Sarwar’s leadership.
The SNP also mentioned the Aberdeen councillors in their response to Starmer’s speech, with Ian Blackford MP saying: "Keir Starmer has proven once again that he's every bit as out of touch with Scotland as Boris Johnson.”
Adding: "And it's Labour councillors that are bedfellows with the Tories in Aberdeen and North Lanarkshire - so Sir Keir might want to get his own house in order before hurling baseless insults at others.
Under Sarwar’s leadership, the party has maintained its strongly unionist stance but has also sought to appear as more than a branch of the UK Labour party. Sarwar also revealed a rebranding of the party’s logo from a traditional rose to a red thistle on the first day of the conference: “Now I know that changing a logo, as we have done today, doesn’t change the way a single person votes. But changing our mindset, and changing the culture of our party, does”, said Sarwar who was elected leader last year.
This coverage was made possible thanks to the University of Aberdeen Development Trust.