Jeremy Corbyn: SNP tries to ‘paint itself as progressive’ while in power ‘they go right’

Written by Jenni Davidson on 26 February 2017 in News

In his speech to the Scottish Labour conference, Corbyn compared the SNP to the Lib Dems in power

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - Image credit: Press Association

Jeremy Corbyn has accused the SNP of pretending to be progressive while acting right wing in government.

In his speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Perth, Corbyn attacked the SNP’s record in power, while accusing both the Conservatives and the SNP of bowing to big business.

He likened the SNP to the Liberal Democrats when they formed a coalition government with the Conservatives.


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“The SNP tries at Westminster to paint itself as progressive,” he said.

“But in many ways they are just like the Lib Dems.

“They talk left in opposition but when in power they go right.

“The failure of the SNP government to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament, the choices they have made and their abject failure in some policy areas reveal much about the SNP.

“It reveals a party intent on stoking grievance politics and blaming others for their own mistakes because they’ve taken their eye off the ball.”

He then listed cuts to college funding, teacher recruitment, “slashing” of local government funding, rail services, social care shortages and a failure to tackle poverty and inequality, as failings of the SNP government.

“The SNP doesn’t want us to focus on their abysmal record,” he said.

“They want another independence referendum and are using Brexit as their leverage.”

On Brexit, Corbyn said he accepted that it had “unleashed uncertainty, instability and concern” among many people, but said we “cannot simply wish away the result.”

“Can you imagine the reaction from those 17 million people, including one million from Scotland, who voted to leave the European Union if we simply ignored them?” he asked.

Earlier in the speech he attacked the SNP’s economic basis for independence as well as the Tories’ record on the economy.

“The SNP pretend independence will magically transform people’s lives,” he said.

“The collapse of oil prices showed how much of a folly that was and what a danger to Scotland’s prosperity independence would have been.

“The Tories claim they want to take back powers from Brussels and the SNP want to take power back from Westminster.

“But neither of them wants to take economic power back from multinationals and big business.”

Accusing both the Conservatives and the SNP of cutting taxes for big business, the Labour leader said: “How is that type of economy going to tackle poverty and the scandal of health inequality that so stubbornly persists here in Scotland?”

“It won’t work for the Tories. And it won’t work for the SNP.”

Corbyn said the Labour Party had a different vision of work, “one that ensures it brings security, not uncertainty, and that effort brings reward, not subsistence.”

Labour must build a movement to ensure Brexit does not lead to the “bargain basement, low tax, tax haven Britain” that was the Tories’ agenda, he said, and vowed too to not give up on demands for EU nationals to be able to stay in the UK.

Corbyn also paid tribute to the late West Lothian MP Tam Dalyell, calling him a “great friend” and saying he “epitomised all that is good about our movement and its values.”

Responding to the speech, the SNP accused Corbyn of “grossly disrespecting” the people of Scotland in accepting the result of the EU referendum.

Deputy SNP leader Angus Robertson MP said: ‘’Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear that he and his party are washing their hands of any attempt to listen to the overwhelming democratic will of the people of Scotland.

“That is grossly disrespecting the wishes of the Scottish electorate, and shows how deeply out of touch with Scottish opinion Labour have become.

‘’Jeremy Corbyn’s message is a stark and depressing surrender on a hard Brexit.

“There is a clear democratic mandate from the people of Scotland not to be dragged out of the EU. To deny that mandate is to deny reality.”

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