Jeremy Corbyn’s message for Scots: It’s Labour v the Tories

Corbyn speaks to young footballers during a visit to pitches at Hackney Marshes in London yesterday. Picture: John Stillwell/PA
Corbyn speaks to young footballers during a visit to pitches at Hackney Marshes in London yesterday. Picture: John Stillwell/PA
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Jeremy Corbyn will tonight urge Scots not to “gamble on their future” and warn that the only choice at the election is between Labour and the Conservatives.

The Labour leader will mark the start of a make-or-break week in the election campaign with an impassioned appeal to Scottish voters to come back to the party as he seeks to recapture the momentum which showed polls closing before the Manchester bombing.

The Islington North MP will tonight accuse the SNP of “obsessing” about a second referendum and passing on Tory austerity north of the Border in a speech to hundreds of supporters at Glasgow’s Fruitmarket.

“Scots have a choice in this election – a Labour government which will govern for the many not the few, or the continuation of Tory and SNP austerity,” Corbyn will say.

“Where the SNP simply passes on Tory austerity without putting up a fight, Labour will transform our economy through investment and development. No more tax breaks for the richest and big business.

“While the SNP obsesses over how to get another divisive independence poll, by contrast Labour believes that together we’re stronger. We’re on the side of the majority of Scots who don’t want a second referendum.

“I’m asking the people of Scotland not to take a gamble on your future. We don’t have to accept the politics of division and austerity. Things can, and they will, change under a Labour government for the many not the few.”

Corbyn has faced criticism over controversial comments on Friday, after the Manchester attack, in which he appeared to suggest UK foreign policy in recent years contributed to the atrocity. It prompted criticism from the Tories, but followed encouraging polls, which indicated Labour was just five points behind the Tories – after a gap of almost 20 
points at the start of the campaign.

Labour in Scotland hope the growing prospect of Corbyn pulling off an unlikely election victory could win back voters north of the border who suddenly see the party as a realistic challenger to the Tories. The party has fallen to a lowly third in Scotland behind the SNP and Tories and may struggle to hold on to its only seat in Edinburgh South.

“With a Labour government in Westminster, Scotland will be part of a country run for the many not the few,” Corbyn will say tonight.

“Labour will end the cuts to budgets and ensure that Scotland has the resources it requires to provide the public services people need. Our mission is first and foremost to make our country one in which people aren’t held back and ensures that the life chances of a child in Easterhouse or Possilpark are the same as those of the children in Bearsden or the West End.

“Our mission is to wipe out shameful health inequalities, in this great city and every other city across our country. Labour will work to eliminate child poverty and tackle the injustice which has led to working families being £1,400 a year worse off under the Tories.

“I want to live in a country that values our elderly people and the service and commitment they have made to our society. Labour will protect pensions so they provide a decent standard of living. And we will provide a social care service that is sufficiently resourced and properly cares for our older people, ensuring social care staff are paid what they deserve.”

He will also highlight Labour plans for a £10 an hour minimum wage – benefiting half a million Scots – and a ban on zero hours contracts to help 60,000 Scots get secure work.

Corbyn yesterday sought 
to defuse claims that he is “soft” on terrorism by announcing that he would recruit 1,000 more staff at security and intelligence agencies MI5, MI6 and 
GCHQ to prevent any future attacks.

Opponents had accused the Labour leader of effectively suggesting the UK was to blame for the Manchester attacks after his speech on Friday.

In a challenge to the Conservatives on what they have traditionally regarded as their home turf, Labour dismissed the Tories’ claim to be the party of law and order as a “myth”, pointing to cuts in numbers of security agents, police, prison officers and border guards under Theresa May and David Cameron.

Corbyn highlighted Labour manifesto pledges to hire 10,000 more police officers, 3,000 more firefighters, 3,000 more prison officers and 500 more border guards.

He said: “Ensuring the safety of our communities demands properly resourced action across many fronts. It means upholding and enforcing our individual rights, promoting community relations, supporting our emergency services, tackling and preventing crime and protecting us from danger, including threats of terror and violence. Only a Labour government will meet these challenges.”