KEIR Starmer is “antagonising” the voters he needs to woo north of the border by flaunting his pro-Union credentials, Jeremy Corbyn’s former adviser on Scotland has warned.

Tommy Kane said the Labour leader was making a big mistake by characterising swing voters on independence as “separatists”.

He said Sir Keir’s “fixation” on blocking another independence referendum was also playing into the hands of the SNP.

Mr Kane makes the claims in an article in the new edition of the Scottish Left Review.

He also accuses Sir Keir of posturing in order to court the Left of the party during the leadership contest this year, then turning his back on it after he’d won.

“In the time of the pandemic, some kind of alternative vision would offer comfort to the Left. But under the new management, there has been little or none,” he said.

Last month, Sir Keir branded Yes supporters, many of them Left-leaning, separatists in a major speech on devolution, in which he rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for Indyref2 within next three years as “misguided”, given the Covid pandemic and its fallout.

He said successive Tory governments had weakened the Union and “in Brexit and in austerity they’ve given separatists two big boxing gloves to pummel the United Kingdom”.

He proposed greater devolution as an alternative to independence, but detailed proposals have yet to be thrashed out by a Constitutional Convention under Gordon Brown.

Mr Kane said: “In the face of polls suggesting a majority in favour of independence and an outright majority for pro-referendum parties in May 2021, Starmer... finally got round to talking about his leadership campaign pledge to ‘push power, wealth and opportunity away from Whitehall.

“Understanding the need for change was positive.

“But there was nothing on federalism, regional investment banks or industrial strategy.

“What he did say feels like too little too late.

“More detail is urgently needed, otherwise it could be seen as a defensive holding position as opposed to a genuine belief in the need to redistribute power and wealth.”

Mr Kane went on: “Labour also has to fix its opposition on another referendum and how it speaks to the people it’s trying to win back.

“Doubling down, as Starmer did, on unionist language, antagonising voters you’re trying to win back, by describing them as separatists is, to say the least, unhelpful.

“As is the Labour leadership’s fixation on blocking indyref2, which plays into the hands of the SNP. Scotland’s right to determine its own future should be recognised.

“Then he could get on with interrogating the substance of independence and why it is a simplistic, flawed and economically damaging response to the broken status quo.”

Mr Kane should take a different tack as Scottish Labour faces an uphill fight at the Holyrood election.

“In Scotland, Starmer can stand beside [Scottish leader] Richard Leonard and outline a shared vision for a Britain that redistributes power from Westminster and wealth from the City of London.

“He can appeal to those who have left Labour and those who may or may not believe in independence but do believe in the Scottish peoples’ right to choose their own constitutional future and just want a fairer, better society.

“He can map out Labour’s vision for change and make the case that there should be a third option on any future referendum that is progressive, forward thinking and serves democracy.”