Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has just dropped a powerful message to supporters of Scottish independence.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Herald, he argued that supporters of independence and Labour under Corbyn have a significant amount in common. Speaking about those who support an independent Scotland, he said:
They were driven away by disillusionment, deindustrialisation, a lack of investment and of a sense of anger at the way their communities have been treated. What we’re saying is that no-one in Britain should be left behind and that no community should be left behind.
The SNP claimed 40 of Labour’s Scottish seats at the 2015 election in a monumental bloodbath. Frustrated with having to endure successive Conservative regimes that they didn’t vote for (whether they chose Labour in the past or the SNP today), supporters see independence as a way of breaking from a Tory-dominated Westminster.
The Labour leader insisted that a lack of investment, along with disillusionment, was not the only quality shared by his own supporters and those who back independence. He said he viewed independence supporters as part of a “reforming and progressive movement”, citing their:
support for progressive policies of investment in housing, better employment rights, and an end to blacklisting workers who stood up and represented others in the trade unions.
Corbyn did not go as far as backing an independent Scotland. But he offered policies in an attempt to woo Scottish voters back to Labour:
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There has to be an investment-led economy and there has to be full employment for all. And you have to have a Scottish investment bank as part of it, so it will be with a very big investment in the Scottish economy.
Clarifying, the Labour leader said control of the bank’s funds would be devolved to the Scottish parliament:
I strongly supported devolution, strongly supported a powerful Scottish Parliament and a powerful Scottish Government.
And obviously the investment we would put in would then be delivered in Scotland by the Scottish parliament and a Scottish Government.
It would not be ring-fenced. The investment would go in. It would be up to the Scottish Government to decide how to spend it.
A pro-independence thinktank backed Corbyn’s and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s proposals for a Scottish investment bank:
Jeremy Corbyn’s economy team have spoken to us about our proposals and we are very happy that they are now a fundamental part of their economic strategy for Scotland. So long as a Scottish investment bank is entirely independent these proposals are very welcome indeed. The Scottish Greens already support some form of national investment bank. It is now our aim to create cross-party support for the proposal at Holyrood.
Scotland’s biggest union, Unite, also reaffirmed support for Corbyn during the recent leadership contest.
If Corbyn did support an independent Scotland, he would face a lot of internal opposition from his own party, which supported the union in the 2014 referendum.
Working apart from Corbyn, Scottish Labour has been criticised for appointing the political editor of the Scottish Daily Mail as its Director of Communications. Considering Scotland’s voting record shows it to be “traditionally left-leaning”, this may not be the type of appointment that is likely to convince SNP voters to return to Labour.
In his first visit to Scotland since being reelected with a landslide, Corbyn was on a charm offensive. If Scotland wants to be rid of the Westminster establishment, Corbyn’s investment-based policies may resonate better with voters than sharing a platform with the Conservatives during the independence referendum.
– Learn more about the ideas behind a national investment bank at Positive Money.
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