Reject indyref2 and build safer UK, Corbyn urges Scots

Jeremy Corbyn has called for Scots to reject independence and stand together to help achieve a safer Britain and 'offer hope to people who are crying out for it'.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged Scots to reject independence. (Photo by Robert Perry/Getty Images)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged Scots to reject independence. (Photo by Robert Perry/Getty Images)

The Labour leader used a speech to party supporters in Glasgow last night to reiterate his promise to invest in policing and social care in the wake of several opinion polls which have seen Theresa May’s lead shrink.

Corbyn said that a Labour government would work to build a country “that is committed to ensuring our policing is fit for the job - with a determination to have a safer Britain in a safer world.”

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

He added that his promise to put 10,000 extra police officers on the beat in England and Wales would lead to extra resources being provided to Holyrood to invest in Police Scotland.

The pledge follows an announcement in February by senior officers that the constabulary north of the border would be cut by 400 over the next 10 years to plug a £188m funding gap.

Corbyn’s address to cheering activists emphasised Labour’s manifesto commitments which party bosses believe are proving popular with the public with 10 days remaining until the election.

“We have committed to the biggest house building programme in recent memory just as Scottish Labour has done with their commitment to build 60 thousand homes here in Scotland,” he said.

“We have committed to paying people a real living wage of £10 an hour - a policy that will benefit nearly half a million Scots.”

Corbyn said his vision rejected Scottish independence “because we say that if we all stand together things can and will change.”

In a direct attack on the SNP’s record at the Scottish Parliament, the Labour leader claimed it was “a tragedy” that the party had not used Holyrood’s full range of powers to tackle poverty and inequality.

He said: “Recent figures show that the numbers of children living in poverty have gone up 40,000 in the past year, to 260,000.

“That is 260,000 young people here in Scotland right now, as we speak, disadvantaged from the start of their lives as a result of political and economic decisions made at Holyrood and Westminster.

“Yet new stronger powers are available to the Scottish Government – powers the SNP demanded but refuse to use to solve the problems on their doorstep.

“Our mission is first and foremost to make our country one that ends poverty and inequality 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.”

Corbyn made a direct appeal to SNP and Conservative voters to read the Labour manifesto and consider its “vision for society”.

He added: “I am confident you will find that only Labour has a plan for an investment driven economy that will deliver for the many not the few.

“I am very proud of our manifesto for lots of reasons. It is a comprehensive plan to transform Britain for the many not the few. I am particularly proud that it recognises and seeks to develop the imagination and inspiration of all our people.

“Scotland has a powerful tradition of working class writers and artists, who wrote with passion and experience as the voice of the downtrodden against the rich and powerful. That oppositional writing and poetry - from Rabbie Burns to Irvine Welsh - should inspire us all and show what we can achieve.”

Corbyn was speaking at the Fruitmarket in Glasgow on a day when Scottish Labour faced claims it has “given up” on constituencies across much of Scotland after leaked internal figures suggested the party had barely spoken to any voters in some areas.

Reports suggested that figures for the number of voter contacts in certain constituencies had plummeted between the 2015 general election and the current campaign, reflecting the collapse in Labour’s fortunes.

Weekly contact figures at the same point in both campaigns were down from 71,179 to 12,155.

In Glasgow North West, voter contacts fell from 2,685 to 96, while in Gordon Brown’s former seat Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, they fell from 2,622 to 151. In Edinburgh South, the only seat that Scottish Labour are defending, voter contacts were down by almost 50%.

SNP candidate Hannah Bardell claimed Labour had “completely given up in most constituencies across Scotland” and could not claim to offer strong Scottish opposition to the Tories at Westminster.

Labour will seek to heap further pressure on the Conservatives today over their plans for pensions, tax and social care.

The party will challenge Mrs May to rule out any rise in income tax and national insurance, and call on her to spell out the level at which social care costs in England will be capped at before pensioners have to pay out of the value of their estate when they die.

Labour claimed voting for the Tories would be a “roll of the dice” for pensioners who could see their incomes rise a slower rate under the Tories after the party ditched the current ‘triple lock’ pledge.

“The Tory manifesto has plunged pensioners and working people into insecurity, and left our public services facing the risk of further crisis,” Labour’s election coordinator Andrew Gwynne said.

“Meanwhile, Theresa May refuses to answer even the most basic questions on her policies.

“So if you get a knock at the door from the Tories or are one of the few people who isn’t a Tory party member to meet Theresa May or Philip Hammond, ask them to provide answers.

“Failure to do so will lead people to draw their own conclusions. But ultimately it proves that voting for the Tories at this election is a dangerous roll of the dice for working people and pensioners.”