Nicola Sturgeon has defended Jeremy Corbyn's view that there is a link between the deadly attack in Manchester and UK foreign policy.
Speaking to Sky News’s Sophy Ridge, the Scottish First Minister denied Prime Minister Theresa May’s claims that Mr Corbyn had blamed foreign policy for the fatal bombing by Salman Abedi that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert on Monday.
Ms Sturgeon said she was not giving an interview to “advocate for Corbyn” but said claims against the Labour leader's speech were “slightly unfair”.
“I heard Theresa May say that what Jeremy Corbyn was saying is that we only had ourselves to blame for what happened in Manchester,” she said.
“I don’t think that’s what he was saying. I don’t think it was what any right-thinking person would say, but we must have the ability to have honest debates about foreign policy and security here.”
The First Minister insisted there was nobody to blame other than the terrorist, and neither she nor Mr Corbyn was trying to justify the attack.
She also pointed to the former head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, who said in 2010 that the Iraq war had led to greater radicalisation in the UK.
Adding that terrorists want to undermine democracy, she said: “We’ve got to protect our ability to have healthy debates ... and I think we should be able to do that without anybody suggesting that anybody who criticises UK foreign policy – and I’ve got many criticisms of UK foreign policy – is in any way, shape or form trying to justify the horrific and dreadful actions of terrorists.”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale also backed Mr Corbyn on the Sky News show, saying he had given a “serious speech” that “should be considered in the round”.
“What he said was foreign policy has indeed contributed to what has happened and the rise in terrorism but it doesn't excuse it,” she said.
“We deserve to have a grown-up conversation about what is an immensely complex issue,” she added, “and sometimes the Tories approach this in a very cheap fashion to score points.”
Ms Sturgeon’s and Ms Dugdale’s comments followed Mr Corbyn’s remarks on Friday that there was a link between “wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home”, and that the war on terrorism “is simply not working”.
He also said terrorists will “forever be reviled and held to account for their actions”.
Ms May seized on his remarks, claiming later the same day that he said that terrorism in the UK was “our own fault”.
“And has chosen to do that just few days after one of the worst terrorist atrocities we have experienced in the United Kingdom,” she said.
In the wake of the largest terrorist attack in the UK since 2005, all political parties temporarily suspended campaigning and the SNP delayed launching its manifesto until 30 May.
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