Speaking at the Progressive Britain conference on Saturday, the Labor leader compared his efforts to reform the party to former Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair’s symbolic rewrite of Clause Four “on steroids”.

But he has been criticized for comments reported to the press before the speech, where he said “I don’t care” if he sounded conservative when pledging to preserve “precious things in our way of life.”

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Opponents have accused Sir Keir of pushing his party to the right in a bid to win over disgruntled Conservative voters.

Tweeting after the speech, Humza Yousaf said: “This week, I accused Labor of being a pale imitation of the Tories, I was wrong, they are a replica.

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

Inter-party election campaigning in Holyrood picked up last week after local elections in England, and projections suggest Labor may miss an overall majority if the results are reflected.

Mr Yousaf’s sentiment was echoed by one of his senior ministers, who said she was not sure who in Scotland Sir Keir was pitching his party to ahead of a general election next year.

Speaking to the PA news agency at a teachers’ union conference in Aberdeen, Scotland Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said: “I am absolutely amazed at the Labor leader in that regard. I’m sure Anas Sarwar will be surprised.

“She’s going to have to clean this up in the chamber next week and I can’t imagine that’s where she wants to take the party.”

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She added: “When you say this you are courting Conservative votes in England, you are not courting people who vote SNP in Scotland, or people who vote Labour, I should say.

“I don’t know who he’s courting, apart from people in the Conservative Party who may be fed up with Rishi Sunak; that’s not what I thought the Labor Party was about.”

The minister added that there has “certainly” been a shift to the right of Labor under the current leadership.

Ms Gilruth, who was promoted to Education Secretary by Humza Yousaf six weeks ago, acknowledged that it had been a “difficult time” for the SNP, but vowed that her party would “fight for every vote” in the upcoming elections.

The SNP has been plagued by internal turmoil in recent months, with a police investigation into its finances resulting in the arrest of former chief executive and Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, and then-treasurer Colin Beattie, who were Released without charge, pending full investigation.

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