Sir Keir Starmer is set to face backlash for his comments praising Margaret Thatcher's “driving sense of purpose”, singling her out as a one of three former Prime Minister's that has changed Britain.
Sir Keir compared the 'iron lady' to Tony Blair and Clement Atlee as other leaders who have shaped change, as well as praising Thatcher's "plan for entrepreneurialism".
The comments have not only been criticised by his own MPs, with Humza Yousaf adding fuel to the fire by saying Thatcher's "entrepreneurialism" was actually "vandalism".
He posted on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, saying: "What Thatcher did to mining and industrial communities was not "entrepreneurialism", it was vandalism.
"Starmer praising Thatcher is an insult to those communities in Scotland, and across the UK, who still bear the scars of her disastrous policies."
A number of Labour backbenchers have already spoken out on the comments.
Ian Byrne, MP for Liverpool West Derby, said that “inequality, hunger, destitution and misery” were “the real legacy left by Thatcher”, while Kim Johnson, another Liverpool MP, said Thatcher had wanted to see her city decline, that she “destroyed industries, attacked trade unionists, privatised our core industries” and that she was “not someone any Labour supporter should look up to”.
Beth Winter, MP for Cynon Valley in south Wales, said Thatcher “devastated working class communities like mine” and that many had never recovered. The Corbynite campaign group Momentum said Starmer’s praise of Thatcher was “a shift to the right, and a failure of Labour values”, saying she had “waste to working-class communities, privatised our public services, and set in train the destruction of the post-war settlement founded by Labour”.
Sarwar remains silent
The Scottish Labour leader has yet to say anything after Starmer's remarks.
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has since challenged Sarwar to disown Sir Keir’s remarks.
He said: “The question is now whether Labour in Scotland will stand by these despicable comments and stand shoulder to shoulder with Starmer just as they did on Gaza — or will they finally speak up for Scotland."
Flynn added in a post on X: "The Leader of the Labour Party praising Margaret Thatcher is bleak for all those hoping for real change.
"It does, again, raise the question as to whether Labour in Scotland agree with their Westminster boss?"
The Aberdeen South MP has also sent a letter to Sarwar, asking: "Do you agree with Sir Keir Starmer that Margaret Thatcher brough 'meaningful change' and 'set loose our entrepreneurialism'?"
The grassroots group Momentum branded Sir Keir’s remarks “a shift to the right and a failure of Labour values.”
They posted on the social media site: “Margaret Thatcher laid waste to working-class communities, privatised our public service, and set in train the destruction of the post-war settlement founded by Labour.
“Starmer’s praise of her isn’t smart politics.”