Jeremy Corbyn: Kezia Dugdale in charge in Scotland

Jeremy Corbyn gave his backing to the Scottish Labour leader. Picture: Getty
Jeremy Corbyn gave his backing to the Scottish Labour leader. Picture: Getty
Have your say

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says the Scottish party will be free develop policy north of the border without his approval.

The Islington North MP arrives in Scotland tomorrow to get the campaign underway for next year’s Holyrood elections and insists his new anti-austerity agenda can help win back voters from the SNP.

It follows his first speech since becoming leader to the UK Labour conference yesterday in Brighton.

Johann Lamont quit as Labour leader north of the border almost a year ago complaining that London treated the party in Scotland like a “branch office.”

Asked today if Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will have to defer to him in any policy areas, Mr Corbyn said: “No.”

And he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland: “Kezia and I are working fine together. I’ve had discussions with her here in Brighton.

“I’m going to be in Scotland tomorrow morning, in Holyrood and other places, meeting a lot of colleagues in the Labour party and other people in Scotland, so we develop our campaign up to the elections next year, but also listening to their views on economic policy and economic development.”

But he stopped short of endorsing Ms Dugdale’s call for Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster to be whipped by the Scottish leader

“I think what we’ll have to do is have a discussion at the Scottish party conference on that,” Mr Corbyn added.

“But the party in Scotland is a very strong organisation, it obviously lays out the manifesto for the Holyrood elections, it obviously lays out what they think of Scottish members in the Holyrood Parliament.”

Mr Corbyn said that Labour’s collapse in Scotland - which saw the party lose all but one seat in the May UK election - was down to its involvement in the cross-party pro-union platform with the Conservatives.

“What went wrong was the better Together campaign and what went wrong was UK-wide our failure to oppose the principles behind austerity in the last two general elections,” he said.

“We have thought very hard about economic policy and John McDonnell outlined on Monday at our Labour party conference the need for investing in manufacturing industry, investing in infrastructure in order to prove the necessary funding for public services across the whole of the UK. I think we’ve made a very good start and a lot of progress on this.

“I think we can appeal to many people who recognise that we are serious about reducing inequality in Britain, we’re serious about unlocking the wonderful potential of everybody, particularly those from the poorest backgrounds.”