The new leader of the Labour Party has said that austerity can have no part in rebuilding the economy after the coronavirus crisis.

In an interview with the Glasgow Times, via video link, Keir Starmer said that Glasgow must have a “locally led” plan to grow the economy.

And to do so he said local government needs to be properly funded and key workers paid more for the job they do.

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Mr Starmer, who replaced Jeremy Corbyn earlier this year as UK Labour leader, said he recognised that Glasgow’s current problems will be made worse by the economic damage caused by the lockdown measures.

Glasgow Times:

The city already has high long term unemployment and child poverty levels.

Mr Starmer, said: “Coronavirus is impacting more in deprived areas, we have begun to see that and we need to understand that better.

“The inequality that was there at the beginning is exacerbating it in communities.”

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He said for the city and the country to recover there has to be a different approach to what happened in the last ten years, following the economic crash after the financial crisis of 2008.

He said: “We can’t return to business as usual. We can’t have another ten years of austerity. We need to invest in what really matters.

“We have undervalued and underpaid key workers for a long time. We’ve not provided enough money to local authorities. That needs to be re-evaluated.

“We will rebuild the whole of the UK, including Scotland. We have a clear strategy in investing for the long term.

“Using investment banks to deliver opportunities to locally led and locally influenced plans to rebuild the economy and rebuild communities.”

Mr Starmer is the fourth UK leader since the party last won an Scottish or UK election and faces a huge task to win back support for his party in Glasgow, which twice at the last three UK elections returned seven SNP MPs.

He said: “Labour has a strong history in Glasgow and I don’t think people’s values have changed but they have moved away from Labour Party.

“It’s is the basis of trust. I don’t think there are people who do not want change.” However he added: “They have lost trust in the Labour Party as a force for good.”

Earlier in a webinar talk with people in Scotland Mr Starmer said that while he wasn’t in favour of independence for Scotland he said the status quo is not an option.

Glasgow Times:

He said: “Labour doesn’t support independence. We don’t want to create more borders but equally the status quo is not sustainable.”

He said his preference was for a federalism solution within the United Kingdom.

But for now he said coronavirus was the “number one priority” which was affecting everyone.

He said: “Decisions about people should be made by people close to them.”

Labour has not won a Scottish Parliament election since 2003 and been out of power at Holyrood since 2007.

Similarly it has lost four Westminster election in a row to the Conservatives, last winning under Tony Blair in 2005.

Mr Starmer said: “If we are losing elections then we are not changing lives.

“Good leaders listen to what people are saying. I’m going to listen, listen, listen.”