Unless we see the largest political surprise in recent memory, Keir Starmer is set to be our forthcoming prime minister.

As the Labour leader steps through the imposing black door of Downing Street for the first time, he’ll experience the substantial power inherent in his position. It’s to be hoped he’ll also feel the weighty responsibility, something that has been sorely lacking in most of his five predecessors over the last 14 years.

Starmer has successfully restructured Labour into a formidable electoral force. Yet, the subsequent responsibility of rebuilding the nation will be an enormously bigger task. Our public services are gridlocked, despite the tax load on labour being at its highest in seven decades.

This month, the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighted in a report how all major political parties have been engaging in a “conspiracy of silence” to avoid addressing the tough decisions that any future government will need to confront. Bluntly, the think tank has alerted us to the fact that services must either be reduced, or taxes further increased.

With Brexit consequences, the pandemic aftermath, the war in Ukraine, and an aging population creating the most damage, maintaining the current standards in our NHS, schools and local authorities will require everyone to contribute more. The UK government now faces skyrocketing interest on debts and welfare bills, with health spending continually rising and increasing calls for elevated defence funding.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (L) and Leader of the Scottish Labour party Anas Sarwar
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (L) and leader of the Scottish Labour party Anas Sarwar
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

In Scotland, many of these challenges are even more urgent than in other areas of the UK. Despite devolving many areas of government, numerous crucial power levers still reside in Whitehall. Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has recognised what Starmer has been reluctant to concede publicly – that there’s an uphill struggle to put the UK back on track.

For the most part during this election, people won’t be voting for Labour with gusto, their primary objective is removing the Tories. Even more so than when Tony Blair took office in 1997, Labour must demonstrate their competence within the position rather than relying on an optimistic election campaign piloted by a charismatic leader.

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Despite the numerous challenges, hope remains, but only if Starmer can deliver genuine change, as he and Scottish leader Anas Sarwar have consistently promised. For this to happen, Starmer must cease appeasing the right-wing media and a minority of voters from the far right, who he has often capitulated to in recent weeks.

The narrow politics of division and the short-sighted economics of greed that they embody are not the solutions. Such an approach would lead Britain into isolated oblivion, both economically and culturally. Starmer must acknowledge that at this moment, genuine power lies with him; the country is cautiously supportive, regardless of billionaire media moguls who have tried for years to undermine his party but are now courting favour obsequiously.

Starmer must stay true to his party’s origins and protect the working class. This means investing in public services and jobs, building a closer relationship with the European Union, confronting tax-evading corporations and millionaires, and acknowledging that immigration is integral to our economic survival.

He also needs to address the problematic system that causes infrastructure projects in the UK to cost significantly more than in other countries. He must accept that if tax increases are required to safeguard the most vulnerable, they need to be implemented as fairly as possible.

It’s crucial for Starmer to cultivate a trusting working relationship with the Scottish Government and understand that a mature discussion about the constitution is inevitable if democracy demands it. More than anything, Labour needs to eliminate the corruption and sleaze that Boris Johnson facilitated during his time on Downing Street.

The Labour Party deserves an opportunity in government and Sunday Mail readers have a choice this coming Thursday. A vote for the SNP will have no impact on the Scottish Government or the next Westminster formation – Firstly minister John Swinney has openly stated that it is “certain” that Starmer will become prime minister.

Swinney has also affirmed that a vote for his party will reinforce Scotland’s voice at Westminster. It’s up to the public to determine if they believe the present nationalist MPs are providing this strong voice, or if they appear increasingly entitled and incompetent.

The alternate choice is to give Labour a second chance in its old Scottish heartlands, help to disassemble a wholly discredited Conservative government, and offer the country some much-needed optimism.