Sir Keir Starmer deserves huge credit for remarkable job turning Labour Party around

-Credit: (Image: James Manning/PA Wire)

The world's gaze is rightly on Keir Starmer today after his remarkable job leading the Labour Party to a landslide victory – a few short years after one of the worst thrashings in political history.

Not many would have predicted that he would win a thumping majority when he took over the party more than four years ago. Labour was reeling from its worst defeat since 1935 and faced a Conservative Party with an 80-seat majority.

He struggled in his early days, with difficult by-elections in historic Labour areas. He deserves massive credit for taking his party into government – with more than 400 seats – from what seemed like an impossible position.

But the even more incredible story of this election is the miraculous result for Scottish Labour. And the party's performance was in no small part down to the Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

He is one of the best communicators in British politics and has transformed his party from also-rans to top dogs. He has proven himself to be a consistent performer during First Minister's Questions and clearly ­resonates with voters who feel let down by the SNP government. He has also managed to pull different sections of his party together, ­acknowledging Labour is a broad church. To turn the party's fortunes around from where it was in 2019 is a ­tremendous achievement.

Labour was left with one Scottish seat in that year's general election – held by the heroic Ian Murray in Edinburgh South. In 2019, the party took just 18.6 per cent of the vote in Scotland, well behind the SNP on 45 per cent and the Tories on 25.1 per cent.

Scottish Labour is now the biggest Westminster group north of the Border and a dominant force again. The incredible gains of the party in Scotland drove its UK-wide success.

Scottish Labour's vote share nearly doubled to 35.7 per cent on Thursday. To put that into context, across the UK Labour's vote share rose by a relatively modest 1.6 per cent.

In areas where the SNP had been dominant, Labour romped home, picking up seat after seat. Labour will take great delight in gaining the six Glasgow seats, seven Lanarkshire seats and the three SNP seats in Edinburgh.

But they will be even happier with wins in areas that were unexpected. Labour took Falkirk – the SNP's safest seat with a majority of 15,000 before the election – by nearly 5000 votes.

They also won in Stirling and the four Ayrshire seats. But Sarwar sees the success of July 4 as a means to an end. He is now eyeing up the First Minister's job in 2026.

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