Jeremy Corbyn will not win a majority at the next general election, and as a result, the Labour Party is making ‘overtures’ to the SNP with a promise of another independence referendum, Kezia Dugdale claimed today.
The former leader of the Scottish Labour Party also warned that if a second vote on independence was fought solely between the SNP and the Conservatives, because of a weak Labour Party, “you might get a different result”.
Speaking at an Edinburgh Fringe event, where she was interviewed by TV political comedian Matt Forde, Ms Dugdale said that doing the “electoral math” showed “it looks very unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn could win a general election.”
She added: “And my reasoning is that he either needs to do tremendously well in Scotland or tremendously well in Labour-Tory marginals in middle England and there’s nothing I see in the policy platform at the moment which is designed to capture those particular pools of voters.”
Ms Dugdale said that it was no secret she would “love” to see a Labour government, but added: “I think it’s very difficult and that’s before we factor in a General Election campaign dominated by the question of Brexit.
“Whether we like it or not, it will be dominated by that one question and we will see a consolidation of people around Remain and Leave camps and they will vote for whatever candidate is the stronger Leaver or Remainer in their constituency - and that does not play to Labour’s favour at the moment.”
She also revealed that while she was leader she had called Mr Corbyn to ask him how he had voted during the Brexit referendum - "he said Remain and I believe him", she said.
Ms Dugdale, who quit party politics in July to take up a new role with the John Smith Centre for Public Service in Glasgow, also spoke out about last week’s controversial remarks by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who said a Labour government would not block a second independence vote.
Asked if she believed Mr Corbyn would have an “arrangement” with the SNP to enable a minority Labour administration, she said: “One hundred per cent. Again, if you’re looking at the electoral math, and you’re John McDonnell - who is a very smart and astute man - you have to work out what your path to power is.
“And if Nicola Sturgeon comes to your door and says I will vote for every one of your budgets for the lifetime of a Parliament and give you the stability a Labour government would need in a minority situation, and all I want in return is for you to grant a section 30 order so we can have a second independence referendum - and you represent a London seat and haven’t experienced what many of us experienced in 2014 - then you’d think that sounds like a belter of an offer.
“I think that’s what we saw when he was here last week, those overtures to the SNP, even the choice of language about an English Parliament, I think that was entirely what that was about.”
The 38-year-old, who stressed she did not believe that Jeremy Corbyn believed in independence for Scotland, said she still believed the Better Together campaign in 2014 had been right for the country, and said Scottish Labour was becoming increasingly unionist” as a party as it had lost independence-supporting voters.
She added: “If there was to be another independence referendum I think the people who care deeply about maintaining the UK as it currently is need the Labour Party to be strong because if it’s just conducted between the SNP and the Tories then I suspect you might get a different result.”