A former SNP justice secretary has admitted that he “rooted” for Jeremy Corbyn during the general election, warning that Labour may soon be able to challenge Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland.
Kenny MacAskill, who served as a member of Alex Salmond’s cabinet for seven years, said the SNP was becoming “moribund” after a decade in power. He said this provided a “window of opportunity” for Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to challenge the ruling party by tempting SNP voters away.
Writing in a newspaper, he said Labour was still “visibly weakened” after its electoral wipeout in Scotland in 2015 and had to “restore some credibility”.
But he added: “With the SNP apparently moribund, though, there’s a window of opportunity. There’s a significant section of the Scottish population that seeks both social justice and a strong Scottish Parliament. It is open to persuasion as to who is best placed to provide it. Labour in Scotland needs to decide what it is for, not be defined by what it is against.”
Mr MacAskill, who stood down as an MSP last year after serving in the Scottish Parliament since 1999, revealed: “Old enemies were converted and even I rooted for [Corbyn] when he was mercilessly pilloried”.
A Labour source said: “As so often with Kenny MacAskill, he is both right and wrong. He’s right that the SNP is moribund, but he is wrong about Scottish Labour’s election campaign.
“We ran a positive pro-Union, anti-austerity campaign led by Kezia Dugdale that was incredibly successful.
“Sadly, the constitution still dominates politics in Scotland and anyone who thinks it can simply be ignored is just plain wrong.”
An SNP spokeswoman said: “Whether it is making sure Scotland’s voice is heard in the Brexit negotiations, standing up against austerity and low pay, or challenging the dodgy £1.5 billion Tory-DUP deal, the SNP is standing up for the people of Scotland.
“By contrast, Labour are more interested in fighting each other than fighting this Tory government.”