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Scottish Labour conference

Corbyn defiant in wake of Copeland defeat

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn: not giving up (photo by Terry Murden)

Leader insists fight goes on

Jeremy Corbyn issued a message of defiance in the face of more calls for a change of leadership following the Copeland by-election defeat.

The Labour leader, addressing party supporters in Perth, admitted that the result “underlined scale of how hard our task is to persuade people of our message”.

But this was not a time for giving up the fight, he said, recalling the battles fought by some of his illustrious predecessors.

Speaking about the loss of the Cumbrian seat to the Conservatives, he said: “Of course I take my share of responsibility for it.

“We haven’t done enough yet to rebuilt trust … with people who have been ripped off and sold out for decades … and don’t feel Labour represents them.

“But now is not the time to retreat, to run away or to give up. Did Keir Hardie give up the fight? Did Clement Atlee?

“Did the miners, who fought for better pay and working conditions from the first days of the mining industry?

“Did the UCS employees, the mill workers and many, many more among the industrial working class who were relentlessly exploited in the workplace?

“No. They fought back and won time and time again to make their lives … and all the rest of us who came after them … better. That’s what we all have to do now and that’s what I will be doing…

“Labour will be campaigning across Britain … for investment in decent jobs and homes, education for all, support for the NHS and social care, and fair taxation.”

The loss of Copeland was the first by-election gain by a governing party in 35 years.

Mr Corbyn accused the SNP government in Scotland of failing to use the powers devolved to it and repeated his recent claim that it was fuelling ‘turbo-charged austerity’.

He also accused the Conservatives of being in thrall to big business and other elites at the expense of working class people.

“Comrades I am sick of how normalised poverty and inequality are becoming … and I’m sick of the rigged economy that makes it happen,” he said.

“And Comrades I am sick of people dying from the impact of endless austerity”

He added “Let’s take our fight for social justice to every doorstep, every village, every town and every city to show there is an alternative to austerity.

“That there is an alternative to division and narrow nationalism.

“And show that Labour is the only party than can and will stand up and deliver for Scotland.”

> In her address to delegates, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale defended London Mayor Sadiq Khan who was accused of comparing nationalism to racism.

Mr Khan said during the conference speech on Saturday that there is “no difference between Scottish nationalism and racism.”

Ms Dugdale said:  “I think Sadiq Khan was very clear that he wasn’t accusing the SNP of racism – what he was saying very clearly though is that nationalism by its very nature divides people, divides communities.”

Daily Business Comment: Class war is not the answer, Comrade Corbyn

 

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