Frontbencher says Corbyn has to up game in Scotland
Shadow Scots secretary is alarmed at ‘inward’ England and backs shift to left
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.