THE SNP have accused Labour of a Tory-style “power-grab plot” over plans to “transform” the Scotland Office, which includes a pledge to deliver “strategic funding” to communities.

As the Labour conference gets under way in Liverpool today, Scottish party MP Ian Murray has unveiled proposals to boost the UK Government’s department north of the Border if Keir Starmer wins the keys to Downing Street at the next General Election.

The plans include being “active and visible” in Scottish communities, with a promise to “deliver strategic funding”.

Murray, who is Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, said the Scotland Office would also promote “Brand Scotland” internationally and work “constructively” with the Scottish Government, accusing the Tory government of only getting involved in Scottish political life when it wants a fight.

The intervention follows the win by Labour in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, with Murray saying it proves Scotland can “lead the way in delivering a Labour government across the UK”.

But the SNP also suggested he is taking voters for granted by already “measuring up the curtains for Whitehall”.

The Tory government has previously been criticised by Scottish ministers for using “levelling up” announcements to bypass Holyrood by funding projects in devolved areas.  Rishi Sunak previously announced funding for towns would be given directly to seven Scottish councils, with the Scottish Government saying the cash should have been provided through the Barnett Formula “in the normal manner”.

The SNP’s Scotland spokesperson Tommy Sheppard said: “We’ve seen the Tories repeatedly attempt to undermine the powers of the Scottish Parliament and expect it from them, but to have Labour now confessing to a power grab plot is staggering. 

“Labour’s plans to centralise power and dictate spending in devolved areas from Westminster would severely frustrate the ability of Scotland’s democratically elected Parliament to deliver vital infrastructure projects and make decisions based on what’s best for the people, businesses and communities who live here.

“Many will also wonder if Ian Murray is getting ahead of himself in measuring up the curtains for Whitehall, taking the voters of Edinburgh South for granted.

“It’s increasingly clear that whether the Tories or Labour are in charge, Westminster can’t be trusted on devolution, and the only way to protect the Scottish Parliament from power grabs is with independence.”

Announcing the proposals Murray said: “Under the Tories, the Scotland Office is a shell of what it can and should be – invisible in communities except when it’s after a fight. 

“The next Labour government will transform the operation, making it an advocate across the globe for Brand Scotland, a powerful voice at the heart of a Labour government, and an ear in communities. 

"While the Tories and the SNP rely on the politics of conflict and division, we will work constructively with the Scottish Government to deliver for the people of Scotland. 

“We will make Scotland an economic powerhouse and use the Scotland Office to deliver transformative change for communities.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Secretary and his team play a vital role in promoting the best interests of Scotland within a strong United Kingdom and effectively representing Scotland’s interests at the heart of the UK Government.”

They added “collaborative work” with the Scottish Government, local authorities and communities has seen delivery of more than £2.5 billion of UK Government investment “directly into Scotland”.