Scotland’s First Minister has accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of insulting Scotland after appearing to praise former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
Baroness Thatcher – who died in 2013 – presided over a privatisation agenda during her time in Downing Street in the 1980s which saw the decline of industry in Scotland, including coal mining and steel working.
Her administration has long been maligned by those on the left of the political spectrum.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Sir Keir said the former prime minister “sought to drag Britain out of its stupor by setting loose our natural entrepreneurialism”.
In the piece, the Labour leader also praised Sir Tony Blair, who he said “reimagined a stale, outdated Labour Party into one that could seize the optimism of the late 1990s”.
But Humza Yousaf attacked Sir Keir for the comments – which will be seen as an attempt to woo Conservative voters ahead of the next general election.
“What Thatcher did to mining and industrial communities was not ‘entrepreneurialism’, it was vandalism,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.
“Starmer praising Thatcher is an insult to those communities in Scotland, and across the UK, who still bear the scars of her disastrous policies.”
In recent months, Labour has been attempting to win over voters in the rest of the UK by shifting right in a bid to woo Conservatives, while also trying to capitalise on the problems facing the SNP in Scotland.
On Sunday, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn sought to drive a wedge between the party north and south of the border, asking Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar in a letter if he agrees with Sir Keir’s comments.
“It really sticks in the throat to read a Labour leader heap praise on an individual that wreaked havoc on our communities, leaving parts of Scotland in terminal decline and engrained poverty for decades,” he said.
The Labour Party has been approached for comment.