The SNP is “intent on having the arguments of the past” rather than embracing the future, Jeremy Corbyn has said ahead of his first visit to Scotland since becoming Labour leader.
Mr Corbyn will travel to Edinburgh today to hold talks with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and other party MSPs at Holyrood, before meeting trade union leaders, council leaders and local activists.
Ahead of the trip, he blamed his party’s dramatic collapse in Scotland at the general election on its association with the Better Together campaign during last year’s referendum – and said his “mission” was to remind people what the Labour party stood for.
“Too many people have told me that they think the Labour Party lost its way,” he said. “We need to win back their trust by showing them exactly what difference a Labour government would make to their lives.
“The stakes are high for Scotland. People can’t afford a Tory government whose policies are making people work harder for less or an SNP government that is intent on having the arguments of the past rather than looking to the future. It’s time for a Labour government that would put our young people first and make sure that we are narrowing the gap between the richest and the rest.”
Mr Corbyn will have to move fast to build support for his party ahead of next May’s Scottish Parliament election, which according to recent polls is likely to result in another landslide victory for the SNP. Labour now has only one MP in Scotland, after the rest were wiped out in the SNP surge at the general election.
Mr Corbyn said Labour’s demise north of the border could partly be explained by its involvement in the cross-party Better Together campaign to keep the Union together – which saw it naturally aligned with the Conservatives – as well as its failure to offer an alternative to austerity.
Although he is currently working on an election campaign plan with Ms Dugdale, he stressed that he did not want to usurp the Scottish Labour leader, who he said was solely responsible for the party’s work north of the border.
“Under my leadership there will be no question about who is in charge of the Scottish Labour Party,” he said. “Kezia Dugdale is leader of our party in Scotland and I will be working alongside her to win back support for Labour.”