Keir Starmer will find it “almost impossible to become prime minister” without winning a significant number of seats back from the SNP in Scotland, Ian Murray has admitted.
The shadow Scottish secretary, speaking at a virtual party conference meeting, said without seats north of the border Labour would need a swing bigger than Tony Blair’s landslide in 1997 to win power.
Mr Murray, Labour’s only Scottish MP, said it was now “critical” the party found a message that “resonated” with Scots.
Labour’s performance in Scotland has been one for much debate in recent years and views on how to turn the party’s fortunes around have varied wildly.
Clive Lewis, who stood against Sir Keir in the leadership race, said Labour should “give up” and instead “have a permanent pact with the SNP”.
Mr Murray is unimpressed by such notions, however, and told party colleagues there must now be a targeted focus on SNP failings in government.
He said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s policy agenda for the last 14 years has failed in all the places that they said they would prioritise.
“Every single public service has demonstrably got worse, waiting times in our NHS are dreadful, our transport system is creaking at the seams, local government has been starved of funding and decimated, social care is in crisis.
“We need to get this across to our teachers, our nurses, our police, that everything in their sphere has demonstrably got worse, and the responsibility for that lies at the top of the Scottish Government.”
He added: “It’s very difficult to get off of the constitutional arguments because they’re easy, the media are obsessed with them, the extremities of No and Yes are obsessed with it, but, really, the day to day ordinary voter in Scotland wants us to talk about the issues affecting their lives.”
Mr Murray said Labour needed to harness these issues as without Scottish votes the chances of Sir Keir in Number 10 were slim.
He said: “Keir Starmer will find it almost impossible to become prime minister without Scotland contributing slightly more than one MP to the pot.
“If we do only deliver one MP or zero or two or three at the next general election, we’ll have to win all the seats up to and including Jacob Rees-Moggs in North East Somerset.
“That would be a 12% swing, a 12% swing is 2% more than the landslide in 1997, 3% more than the landslide of 45.
“In that context it makes it mathematically and politically very difficult.”