Good evening, my name is James and welcome to the new weekly newsletter focusing on the highest Branch Office in the land.

The sixth free newsletter is below for you to have a read of as I bring you the week's latest news and gaffes from Scottish Labour, as they attempt to challenge the SNP/Green Government and avoid being disciplined by head honcho Keir Starmer.

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Hope you enjoy!

New Blue Labour

You may have noticed that this week’s newsletter image is blue rather than the archetypal Labour red. 

Why you may ask? Well – If it wasn’t already abundantly obvious, the Labour Party under head honcho Keir Starmer is becoming increasingly indistinguishable from the Tories

Don’t just take my word for it. 

On Saturday, Starmer himself told the press ahead of a speech that he “doesn’t care” if he sounded conservative when committing to preserving “precious things in our way of life”.

Those “precious things” Anas Sarwar’s boss speaks of must be Tory legislation, as his party continues to refuse to back repealing any of it.

The National:

The latest iteration of this new blue Labour came on Tuesday after they refused to support the SNP’s efforts to repeal anti-protest legislation – calling their attempt “a stunt”.

The Public Order Act – which gives police in England sweeping powers to crack down on peaceful protest – was hastily rushed in ahead of the King’s coronation whereupon its powers were used to arrest dozens of anti-monarchy protesters for, um, protesting. 

In response to this refusal, the SNP criticised Labour and accused the party of “simply looking like gormless Tory sidekicks”.

Following Starmer’s aforementioned speech, Humza Yousaf joined in on the comparison and tweeted: “This week, I accused Labour of being a pale imitation of the Tories, I was wrong, they are a replica.

“Whether it is the blue Tories or red Tories in Number 10, they will continue policies that are harming Scotland. We need independence to protect our people.”

Tea room > cost of living debate

Labour faced criticism after not a single one of their backbench MPs put themselves forward to speak in a debate on the cost of living on Tuesday – with accusations they were sitting in the tea room instead.

SNP’s deputy leader Mhairi Black opened the debate, saying the cost of living crisis was the result of a UK Government which “shamed the sick and disabled”.

At the beginning of her speech, she also noted: “As far as I’m aware there is only one Conservative MP wanting to talk and not a single Labour backbencher wanting to talk on this.”

The National: Mhairi Black took aim at the lack of Labour backbenchers who spoke at yesterday's cost of living

Cries of “they don’t care” could be heard from the SNP backbenches. SNP MP Peter Grant then later tweeted: “Astonishing that there’s not a single Labour backbench MP who has put their name down to speak in a debate on the cost of living.

“And it’s not because they’re busy elsewhere, there’s dozens of them in the tea room.”

Former FM chimes in 

Labour Branch Office leader Anas Sarwar has been notably absent this week, erring away from commenting on the above – a wise move perhaps from his comms team. 

In his place, former Labour first minister Henry McLeish chimed in with some sense and branded Westminster’s behaviour towards the Scottish Parliament as an “assault on devolution” in a scathing interview.

First minister between 2000 and 2001, McLeish called out the “political control and coercion” of the UK Government amid moves to suppress Scotland’s engagement with foreign representatives.

The National: Henry McLeish

McLeish - who says he'll back independence if the Union isn't reformed - also said Scottish Secretary Alister Jack should resign if he can’t stand up for Scotland against Westminster’s efforts to curb Holyrood’s international work.

Guidance, issued last month by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, states that meetings between the Scottish Government and overseas ministers need to go through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Cleverly expressed fears over the Scottish Government promoting “separatism” or undermining Westminster policy during the meetings.

Shortly after, Tory peer and MP hopeful Lord Frost called for Scottish devolution to be reversed.

McLeish hit out against the UK Government’s actions in an interview with The Herald.

He said: "This letter is part of a wider assault on devolution. It's the contempt, the disrespect, but it's also about political control and coercion. This Tory government does not recognise the spirit of devolution.”