Front­bencher says Cor­byn has to up game in Scot­land

Shadow Scots sec­re­tary is alarmed at ‘in­ward’ Eng­land and backs shift to left

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE - MICHAEL SET­TLE UK PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR

JEREMY COR­BYN needs to raise his game north of the Bor­der if Labour hopes to re­gain power in 2020, shadow Scot­tish sec­re­tary David An­der­son has warned, as he ex­pressed alarm at the level of anti-Scot­tish feel­ing in Eng­land.

The MP for Blay­don in Tyne and Wear, who shad­ows not only the Scot­tish port­fo­lio but also the North­ern Ir­ish one, also told The Her­ald that tar­get­ing the cen­tre ground of Bri­tish pol­i­tics had “failed” Labour and vot­ers were now ready to con­sider a more rad­i­cal left-wing agenda.

Mr An­der­son in­sisted Mr Cor­byn did “not re­ally” bear any re­spon­si­bil­ity for Labour’s de­cline in Scot­land, say­ing that for a long time the party had taken Scots for granted.

He said: “Jeremy hasn’t re­ally had the chance to make a mark in Scot­land, partly be­cause he has not been given a fair run in the me­dia … but also be­cause we spent a lot of this year in­ter­nal­is­ing about the party and the stuff about Brexit, which in a sense was im­por­tant for all of us, but there isn’t any­thing he has done or not done that re­ally has made our po­si­tion any bet­ter or worse in Scot­land.”

Mr An­der­son said Mr Cor­byn needed to be able to spend more time in Scot­land and “try to ex­plain to peo­ple what we are look­ing at is what the peo­ple of Scot­land have al­ways be­lieved in: fair­ness; so­cial jus­tice; look­ing af­ter each other; ac­cept­ing col­lec­tivism as a pos­i­tive thing rather than a neg­a­tive thing”.

Asked if the Labour leader had to try harder in Scot­land, Mr An­der­son replied: “He does and he recog­nises that, but there has been a re­al­ity about phys­i­cally be­ing able to turn his at­ten­tion to Scot­land in the way I would want him to do and cer­tainly the way mem­bers of the party up there want him to do and mem­bers of the union want him to do.

“That’s not crit­i­cis­ing him for not do­ing it; it’s ac­cept­ing the re­al­ity of what he has been faced with.”

He re­vealed the Labour leader is to get an ad­di­tional ad­viser from Scot­land to help with Scot­tish mat­ters.

Now, six months into his role, Mr An­der­son, who has yet to make a speech on Scot­land, said re­gard­ing his Scot­tish role: “I would cer­tainly like to do more … To some ex­tent, it’s this di­chotomy for me not want­ing to step on the toes of the peo­ple in Holy­rood and try­ing to find a bal­ance that will work.”

With Labour trail­ing the Con­ser­va­tives 14 points in the opin­ion polls, the 63-year-old for­mer miner was asked why peo­ple would vote for Mr Cor­byn and his left-wing agenda when they had not put any­one left of Tony Blair into No 10 since Harold Wil­son in 1974.

“Peo­ple are ready for a change,” he de­clared. “They are sick of the same old, same old. Look at the stuff we talk about: full em­ploy­ment; build­ing a mil­lion houses; hav­ing a proper health and so­cial care sys­tem; hav­ing a for­eign pol­icy based on peace; pro­vid­ing proper wel­fare for peo­ple who need it; putting kids into work. There’s no­body go­ing to say no to that. We have to con­vince peo­ple we can do that. It’s a huge job. But what’s the al­ter­na­tive? We ped­dle a mid­dle line again? A mid­dle line has failed us.”

When it was sug­gested tar­get­ing the cen­tre ground had won Labour three gen­eral elec­tions, Mr An­der­son said that in 1997 “any­body would have won that elec­tion” against John Ma­jor and Mr Blair should have been more rad­i­cal than pur­su­ing a “very mid­dle of the road agenda”.

Asked why, hav­ing won three elec­tions from the cen­tre ground, Labour HE WAS the dash­ing, celebrity pho­tog­ra­pher who mar­ried the Queen’s sis­ter.

Lord Snowdon, who was born Antony Arm­strong-Jones, and mar­ried Princess Mar­garet af­ter a fairy­tale ro­mance in 1960, has died aged 86.

Al­though they di­vorced 18 years later, he re­tained close links to roy­alty, pho­tograph­ing Diana, Princess of Wales on her en­gage­ment day in Fe­bru­ary 1981.

The Queen was re­port­edly “sad­dened” by his death.

Lord Snowdon also cam­paigned against in­jus­tices for peo­ple with PRICE £1.75 dis­abil­i­ties, set­ting up his own char­ity, and helped raise aware­ness of the stigma sur­round­ing men­tal ill­ness.

Mar­jorie Wal­lace, who founded the char­ity Sane, praised his “com­mit­ment and com­pas­sion”.

should now think a lurch to the left will win it power in 2020, the shadow sec­re­tary of state said be­cause Bri­tain was “in a dif­fer­ent phase to what we were then”.

He ex­plained: “If we are go­ing to tap into a dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tion and try to give peo­ple some hope that there is a dif­fer­ent way of do­ing things, then we have to be rad­i­cal.”

Mr An­der­son talked about in­te­grat­ing health and so­cial care, col­lec­tivism, so­cial jus­tice and fair­ness.

He picked up on Mr Cor­byn’s call for a na­tional max­i­mum wage, say­ing the mes­sage was not di­rected at politi­cians or the me­dia but the “lads and lasses in the pub think­ing that’s a good idea; look at them fat cat b ******* …There’s a cap on six mil­lion pub­lic sec­tor work­ers’ pay and there has been for 10 years. It’s this thing about a ‘shared so­ci­ety’. For me, if you’re go­ing to share; that’s re­dis­tri­bu­tion”.

The front­bencher also ex­pressed his con­cern about the rise in anti-Scot­tish feel­ing in Eng­land.

He said: “One of my big­gest frus­tra­tions is over the last few years how very much in­ward the peo­ple of Eng­land have turned against the Scots in par­tic­u­lar. It sad­dens me. We are bet­ter off to­gether.”

Re­fer­ring to the Brexit vote and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s drive for Bri­tain to stay in the sin­gle mar­ket, Mr An­der­son said: “Let’s face it, peo­ple will spin this as say­ing: ‘It’s the Scot­tish tail wag­ging the English dog again.’ Peo­ple are say­ing we should have been out of Europe on June 24 and we are not even go­ing to start talk­ing now un­til March 31. They have pushed it back just be­cause of them… It’s very di­vi­sive.”

He added: “The ref­er­en­dum in 2014 high­lighted the dif­fer­ences and then you had the 2015 elec­tion and Ni­cola com­ing through and a lot of peo­ple in Eng­land say­ing they’re telling us what to do. It just fills me with de­spair.

“It’s the neg­a­tive side of when you have na­tion­al­ism; I’m not hav­ing a go at them [the SNP] on this. It’s when peo­ple start re­act­ing to it and it’s not thought through… it’s bad for all of us. It’s like be­ing a fam­ily with­out lov­ing each other but you are still a fam­ily and you put up with each other’s foibles, etc.

“But when you start get­ting po­larised…we should avoid it like the plague.”

Mr An­der­son also said that it was it was “vi­tal” for Labour to re­vive and win more seats in Scot­land if Mr Cor­byn was to stand a rea­son­able chance of get­ting into Down­ing Street, not­ing: “We can­not prob­a­bly win an elec­tion in Bri­tain with­out get­ting some in­crease in votes in Scot­land”.

He said there was “no plan writ­ten down” on how to re­vive Labour in Scot­land but his “ba­sic re­ac­tion is we need to get back to grass­roots”.

Re­fer­ring to his joint Scot­tish and North­ern Ire­land role, he said he did not want to be a part-time shadow scot­tish sec­re­tary but “peo­ple for their own rea­sons de­cided they wouldn’t take the job on”.

DAVE AN­DER­SON: Con­cerns over anti-Scot­tish feel­ing.

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