LABOUR will not “be able to fix our public services” on day one if they win the next election, the new head of the UK’s trade union federation has said.

Paul Nowak, the incoming new head of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), cast a pessimistic light on the limits of what Keir Starmer will be able to achieve if he is elected Britain’s next prime minister, saying Labour would not be able to “turn the taps on from day one”.

Speaking to The Guardian, Nowak said no one would be able to predict the “economic mess Labour is going to inherit” if the party takes over from the Conservatives in Westminster come the next General Election.

All recent polling has put the party on course for victory when the UK next goes to the ballot box, but the new TUC boss said Labour would not be able to provide any quick fixes for what he described as "13 years of neglect” by the Tories.

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He said: “Who knows what economic mess Labour is going to inherit. It’s not going to be able to turn the taps on from day one. It’s not going to be able to fix our public services.

“What you can’t fix is 12 or 13 years of neglect on day one but you can set a very clear direction of travel. No one believes that you can fix our NHS, fix our schools, fix our civil service on day one of a Labour government because you’re undoing years of neglect … But you can certainly begin to do things that would give confidence.”

And he appeared to cautiously approve of Starmer distancing himself from trade unions over the past year by banning members of his frontbench team from attending strike picket lines.

The TUC is the national federation of trade unions in the UK, with 48 affiliated unions representing around 5.5 million members.

Nowak said he recognised Starmer’s job was “different” to his but stressed he wanted to see all parties recognise the reasons workers took strike action.

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“I obviously want any political party, when workers take that very difficult decision to take industrial action, to understand why they’re doing that and support them. But I recognise that Keir’s job is different to my job,” he said.

He added: “When we’re in the midst of this cost of living crisis, with the pressures on the UK economy, to spend precious parliamentary time taking another kick at unions, rather than trying to resolve underlying issues, just seems absolutely ludicrous.  

“The government will pay a political price for it because I think there will be a lot of ordinary people looking at it saying, hang on, this just doesn’t seem right.”

In response to the comments, SNP MSP Paul McLennan said: "The money needed to revitalise public services has been lost to the economic folly of Brexit and only re-joining the EU will replace that lost finance. Yet Keir Starmer repeatedly has made it clear Labour will not do that.

"Even the trade union movement is increasingly realising that Labour offers no change from the current Tory catastrophe. 

"People should be in no doubt that a vote for Labour is a vote for further austerity, further hardship and ever-growing inequality.

“Scotland can escape that by building a happier, wealthier, more equal country for all by re-joining the European Union as an independent country, escaping the damage of Westminster control for good.”

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A Scottish Greens spokesperson added: "The TUC are correct that the economic vandalism from the Tory’s mishandling of the economy will impact public services, families and businesses for generations to come.

“Getting them out of office cannot come a moment too soon. 

“But while this Starmer-led edition of the Labour Party continues to endorse the disastrous policies of Brexit, stands against re-entering the EU while at the same time refusing to stand with the unions, and chooses to block Scotland’s democratic right for a referendum on its own future, its getting harder and harder to tell the difference.

“Scotland deserves better than being dictated to by a Westminster government we did not vote for. 

“It is clear that only through the powers of independence can we deliver the change that is so badly needed.” 

Nowak, from Bebington near Liverpool, served as the outgoing TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady’s deputy since 2016 and officially takes over from her in January.