Leader's twin attack on Tories and SNP

SNP failing to stand up for Scotland, says Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn: we are changing (photo by Terry Murden – DB Services)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today accused the SNP of “failing to stand up for Scotland” by imposing turbo-charged Tory austerity on the country. 

He also attacked Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan, saying it will hand more power to the London elite and create a tax haven bargain basement Britain off the coast of Europe.

Addressing party supporters in Glasgow he said that Mrs May’s “race to the bottom” message will cost the UK £120 billion by 2022 if she matches Ireland’s rate of corporation taxes.

That would mean “even less money for our underfunded and overstretched NHS. Less money for social care, whose budgets have been slashed by billions. And less money to give our councils,” he said, adding that the Scottish government is” devolving austerity and passing the buck”.

He supported Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale’s call for the SNP government at Holyrood to reverse its planned cutbacks and accused it of failing to “stand up for Scotland”.

Mr Corbyn said: “I am delighted that Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Labour are leading the fight against these latest cuts, on top of the council cuts implemented by the SNP since 2007, which once again threaten the very local services that keep our communities together.

“The SNP Government simply passes on Tory austerity and is increasingly failing to govern effectively or fairly.

“Trying to talk Left at Westminster when in opposition, whilst acting Right in power at Holyrood, is not standing up for Scotland.

“It is not standing up for Scotland failing to tackle the scandalous level of health inequalities here in this great city of Glasgow and across Scotland. It is not standing up for Scotland overseeing a growing attainment gap between children from poorer and wealthier backgrounds.

“It is not standing up for Scotland refusing to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to invest in all of these areas – and many more where the SNP has failed.

“The SNP is not standing up for Scotland. It’s standing up for the establishment.”

Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn
Game for a laugh: Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn (photo by Terry Murden – DB Media Services)

In a show of unity with Scottish Labour, which has on occasions clashed on policy issues, he said: “Both Kezia and I agree on the need to set up a People’s Constitutional Convention, led by Labour, to see how best we can redistribute reclaimed powers and resources across all our nations and regions.

“I am also determined to replace the unelected House of Lords with a democratic second chamber that ensures every part of the UK has an equal say in the UK parliament. I want to replace the House of Lords with a Senate for the Nations and Regions.”

Mr Corbyn said the cause of “underlying problems” facing Scotland would not be solved by separating England from Scotland. They were a result of too much power being vested in the “establishment”.

He said Scots were just as wary of the establishment in Edinburgh as they are of powerful elites in London.

“67% of Scots believe there is an Establishment in London that doesn’t understand the problems faced by people living in Scotland.

“But 43% agree that an Edinburgh establishment doesn’t understand them either. This isn’t north v south, or England v Scotland. It’s about people and powerful establishments.”

He accused the SNP of failing to offer a challenge to the economic power of the City by “surrendering” to it by welcoming Tory tax cuts at Westminster.

On independence, he said: “Of course Scotland has the talent and ability to run its own affairs. But I do not believe it would be the best option for the Scottish people.

“It would lead to turbo-charged austerity and a glaring hole in the money required to fund essential services.”

Corbyn addressing Unison members before his speech (photo by Terry Murden)

He said that anyone who thought Labour could never again be the “agent of radical and progressive change” should think again.

“We are changing in a way that reflects the modern world,” he said.

To loud cheers and applause, he said: “We are committed to the redistribution of power and wealth in a way that no other party will ever even think of, let alone achieve.”

He said Brexit offered the chance to rebalance Britain, between rich and poor, and between Westminster and the nations and regions.

He is holding a summit in two weeks time with European socialist leaders to make a case for how Brexit will work best for Britain. The CBI has agreed to attend and he has told them that Labour’s plans will involve raising corporation tax to pay for education.

Labour, he said, will create an industrial strategy backed by a national investment bank and a subsidiary Scottish Development Bank, build more council homes and take the railways back into public ownership.

“We would put the public back into our economy…and break the grip of vested interests. We would shrink the gap in income and wealth. We will make sure the corporations and the richest pay their fair share of taxes.”

Ms Dugdale emphasised her campaign for the proposed Budget cutbacks to be halted.

She told the meeting at City Halls: “Our Parliament is now more powerful than ever, with all the powers it needs to reverse Tory austerity. But despite this, our services are still facing £327million of cuts.

“Cuts that come after a decade of SNP austerity where we have watched as teacher numbers have been cut, college places have been slashed and our NHS has been put under more and more strain.

“Every week in the Scottish Parliament we are hearing stories of patients left on trollies, children turned away from A&Es and people being told to get treatment in Europe instead of staying on an NHS waiting list.

“The SNP’s management and under-funding of our public services is a real and growing crisis in our country. And that is why Labour will vote against the budget in the Scottish Parliament.”

The SNP  accused Labour of taking contradictory views on the single market, pointing to Mr Corbyn’s statement that Labour would support withdrawal from the single market while the Scottish Labour group voted for Scotland to remain in the single market only three days ago at Holyrood. 

The SNP also noted that Mr Corbyn’s speech in Glasgow was overshadowed by comments from a senior Labour member, West Midlands Mayoral Candidate Sion Simon MEP, who has called for an end to the Barnett Formula.

“While Scottish Labour supports the settlement Scotland receives through Barnett, moves by the party in England to cut off funding for Scotland will mean further headaches for Kezia Dugdale,” said the SNP in a stateement.”

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said: “Today has been an utter shambles for Labour – pledging to help the Tories drag Scotland out of the European single market one minute, and demanding the end of the Barnett Formula and a cut to Scotland’s cash the next.

“It truly shows how little power Kezia Dugdale wields in her own party.

“The comments from their West Midlands Mayoral candidate are also deeply concerning, and reveal that despite their rhetoric on protecting public services, Labour are itching to slash Scotland’s budget. Only the SNP can be trusted to stand up for Scotland.”

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