Richard Leonard warns against Labour pact with the SNP

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has warned his party not to seek a pact with the SNP to get into power, telling the Labour conference in Brighton that there was “no shortcut to a Jeremy Corbyn government through the SNP”.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard

Mr Leonard set out plans to give councils the power to buy land for housing at existing land values, and recommitted to replacing the House of Lords with a Senate of Nations and Regions as part of sweeping constitutional reform.

But while the Scottish Labour leader said an independent Scotland would not deliver the socialist policies that his party could in government, Mr Leonard failed to explicitly mention the prospect of a second independence referendum.

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On Sunday, he was forced to concede Labour could allow indyref2 to take place despite Scottish Labour’s strong objection, after Mr Corbyn said the power to hold a second independence vote should rest with Holyrood.

“My aim as the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party is not simply to lead a better management team than the SNP,” Mr Leonard said.

“It is to lead a Scottish Labour Government worthy of the name and It is to go forward winning Scotland back to Labour.

“Because make no mistake that is the only way to deliver a Labour Government. That is the only way: by electing Scottish Labour MPs.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no shortcut to a Jeremy Corbyn government through the SNP.”

Mr Leonard said Scottish Labour would force a vote at Holyrood next week on ending the Abellio franchise of ScotRail and bringing Scotland’s railways into public ownership.

And he said a Housing Commission to be launched over the next few weeks would make “radical” recommendations to cut the profits of property developers.

Labour would also bring forward a law giving local councils, housing associations and housing co-operatives the right to acquire land at an existing use-value, Mr Leonard said.

A new Scotland Act under a Labour government will also see employment law devolved to Edinburgh, he added.

“We are on the brink of something extraordinary, the greatest opportunity for more than a generation to elect a truly radical, transformative Labour government,” Mr Leonard concluded.

“And with that opportunity, we send out the clear and simple message from this conference today that a socialist Britain will do far more to improve the lives of the people than a separate Scotland ever could.

“So let’s hold our nerve. Let’s keep our faith. Let’s put in the hard work. A Labour government is within our grasp. Let us go out and win it.”