Corbyn’s Scottish trip shows he means it when he says he’ll win back support


“Gotta feel sorry for Corbyn. “Don’t mention Scotland! Drink this! Just Drink. The. Irn. Bru. Try to look happy.”

That’s SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter’s opinion of Jeremy Corbyn’s trip north of the English border – but it’s one that doesn’t seem to reflect the actual state of affairs at all.

Sure, we have the photographs of Labour’s new leader brandishing a bottle of Irn Bru and claims like that in The National, that Scottish Labour has told him not to mention the word ‘Scotland’ for fear of “playing to the nationalist agenda” (it seems he was advised by senior party insiders to refer to towns and cities rather than the country).

Others have been taking the visit more seriously. According to the FT, “Some Labour members think that his left wing views will make it harder for the ruling Scottish National party to portray itself as a champion of socialist values while pursuing centrist policies” (Scottish Labour’s opinion seems to be that the SNP are “New Labour in kilts”).

This, of course, suggests that moving Labour to the left of the political spectrum leaves more of the middle ground for the SNP. Won’t that imply a visible shift in that party’s policies, away from what the electorate thought it was, though?

Mr Corbyn himself seems to endorse that view. Asked how Labour’s anti-austerity stance differs from the SNP’s, he told the Daily Record: “We mean it.”

“We’ve learned the lessons of the economic strategies of the past and the way they haven’t worked. It does mean rebalancing our economy, it does mean maintaining the 50p top rate of tax, it does mean not cutting tax credits for the poorest people in our society.

“We want to invest in a growing, expanding economy across the UK and we fully support the powers in the Scotland Bill, and we are going to be working closely with the Labour Party in Scotland to try to defend the people of Scotland from the worst effects of the Trade Union Bill and, of course, the Welfare Reform Bill.”

Mr Corbyn warned that the SNP plan for “full fiscal autonomy” would lead to “very, very heavy” austerity – implying that the nationalists have been misleading their electorate about the effects of their policies.

He told the Record: “If you go for fiscal autonomy, I don’t know what kind of austerity you are going to have but all I know is it would be very, very heavy. I want to see an end to austerity across all of the UK and that is what the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell did in his speech at the party conference on Monday.”

He made it clear that he rejects SNP claims that they are the only effective opposition to the Tories, and pointed out that Labour membership in Scotland it at its highest in years since he took over as leader.

“I believe we’re going to continue to gain support,” he said. “We’re going to do lot of campaigning and point out that what really matters to people is housing, is education, jobs, opportunities and opposing what the Tories are doing in the Welfare Reform Bill.

“We will do our best to get sufficient powers to the Scottish Parliament to try to reduce the impact of the disastrous welfare reform bill on the people of Scotland.”

And he repeated his position on Trident, saying his belief that it should be scrapped had been well known for years and would win popular support in Scotland.

Hmm. That’s six mentions of ‘Scotland’, just in the comments quoted here. Perhaps Ms Hunter and The National were mistaken?

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7 thoughts on “Corbyn’s Scottish trip shows he means it when he says he’ll win back support

  1. Owen Williams

    I do wonder – and hope – that Mr Corbyn is the kind of man to say to his advisers, “Your advice is duly-noted, and ignored because it’s crap and we both know it is, so kindly stop trying to pour it in my ears,”, particularly when his principles and political instinct tells him that they are wrong. Mr Corbyn has seemed, to myself thus far, to be a man who knows right from wrong in both political and common sense, and is confident enough to forge ahead with what he believes to be right, even when his advisers are calling it political suicide. I hope he continues to do so, because frankly, if this story and others I’ve read like it are anything approaching the truth of what his advisors seem to be telling him, they’re all either trying to make him look like an idiot, or they’ve taken up with the wrong side of the political spectrum…or maybe they still belong to the Cult of Tony Blair…

  2. Jane Smart

    Hello Mike,
    I love this site – you work hard – thank you!
    However, and since we are on the subject of Scotland;
    Is it absolutely necessary to have ‘THE FALSEHOODS OF SCOTTISH NATIONALISTS’ printed on your page heading?
    Your political take seems to be largely tolerant and reasonable so this seems a bit unfair!
    Do you have any comment?
    Jane in Scotland! X

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      At a time when the SNP has just been caught out on its spending in Holyrood, I think it’s just as well to maintain a page on the ways that party misdirects the public.
      To be honest, it needs a bit of work at the moment, but I’ve been very busy trying to get a better deal for sick and disabled people, as anybody who has been reading the news over the summer will know.
      I decided to make the SNP a separate page on the site, rather than an article, in order to keep it in the public eye. Pages are always listed when you view any part of the site.

  3. rockingbass

    As a x Labour party member who left Labour years ago…..I wish Jeremy well but he just dose not get what has happen up here in Scotland….Stop Carping about the SNP and work with us to provide what the 3 Westminster parties promised us with the much discredited Vow. Fear of the future Jeremy dose not work with us any more.Next time come and visit me an I will try to explain why you should chant your mind about Full Fiscal Autonomy

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Are you serious?
      Working with the SNP would involve a serious change of position back towards the Right again, and Corbyn (in case you haven’t noticed) is against that.

  4. Joan Edington

    I have no idea about the truth of Corbyn’s being advised to make use of towns & cities, as in England, rather than to lump Scotland into a single entity. In a way I think it makes sense, although I doubt if he could identify the needs of individual areas of Scotland.

    What was noticed, though, was his refusal to talk to the public or any media other than the Daily Record (that of The Vow).

    “We will do our best to get sufficient powers to the Scottish Parliament to try to reduce the impact of the disastrous welfare reform bill on the people of Scotland.”
    This would seem to go against his natural aim to reduce this impact to all of the UK. It would not go down well in England if he seemed to favour Scotland, which he obviously shouldn’t. The Labour Party didn’t want Scottish devolution in the first place and I am not aware of that view changing.

    As for housing… In the last 4 years that Labour were in power in Scotland they managed to build 6 council houses. Since the SNP came to power, there have been 4,500 new council homes built, 1,300+ in 2013 alone. They are also cancelling all RTB from next year.

    Don’t get me wrong; I am absolutely in favour of Corbyn as Labour leader, but he has a long way to go to win back significant support here. You may not like Sturgeon but, if Corbyn took a leaf out of her book and went out among the people, rather than slinking in and out of the country a la Cameron, he would win a lot more, I’m sure.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Do we know that he actually refused to talk to anybody apart from the Record?
      The quote you mention doesn’t go against his aim to reduce the impact across the UK. He’s saying he’ll treat Scotland no differently and intends to ensure that, despite any political differences between the two sides of the border, Labour will work to protect everybody equally.
      What do you mean, the Labour Party didn’t want Scottish devolution in the first place? Remember, it’s due to Labour that there has been any devolution at all – the Scottish Parliament is a Labour Party invention.
      Re: Housing – the SNP promise was 6,000 social rented houses per year. So by May 2015 they’re behind by 43,500 houses, according to your figures.
      Can you provide an independent reference for your claim of six council houses built by Labour in four years?
      Regarding Corbyn “slinking”, I think you forget that he is the UK Labour leader. Going out among the people should be Kezia Dugdale’s job.

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