UK Labour reject unified front against Tories to approval of Scottish party
JEREMY CORBYN, the UK leader of the Labour Party, has ruled out any post-election coalition with the SNP, Greens or Liberal Democrats insisting that only a Labour Government can stop the Tories agenda of austerity.
In a statement yesterday (Wednesday 19 April) he explained that a ‘progressive alliance’ with the SNP would be impossible because the Scottish party “is not a progressive party, having passed on Tory austerity in Scotland.”
His comments came a day after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed such a coalition of centre left parties working across the UK and two days after the UK Prime Minister Theresa May called a UK General Election for 8 June to seek “unity and stability” in the face of future Brexit negotiations with the EU.
The idea of a coalition government of centre left parties is distinct from the “progressive alliance”, being pushed by some figures in the SNP, which would see an electoral pact in certain seats to unite behind a single left candidate against the Tories, in an attempt to curb the party’s ascendancy.
This idea has largely failed to materialise so far in the snap general election, though the Scottish Greens have already hinted through their co-convenor Maggie Chapman that the party would not seek to put up a candidate against Secretary of state for Scotland David Mundell, who is Scotland’s last remaining Tory MP. The deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Kate Parminter, has also said her party should not stand a candidate against Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Caroline Lucas.
“For the sake of our NHS, our welfare state and our environment we need progressive party leaders to ditch partisan politics.” Caroline Lucas MP
Ahead of the NEC meeting last night Jeremy Corbyn said: “There will be no coalition deal with the SNP and a Labour government.
“The SNP may talk left at Westminster, but in government in Scotland it acts right. A genuinely progressive party would not refuse to introduce a 50p top rate of income tax on the richest.
"The SNP wants to break up the UK; it has no interest in making it work better. Independence would lead to turbo-charged austerity in Scotland – not progressive politics.
“Nicola Sturgeon is trying to convince people in Scotland that you can get rid of the Tories by voting SNP. She couldn’t be more wrong. Only Labour or the Tories can win this election and voting Labour is the only way to remove Theresa May from office. If you want progressive policies that deliver social justice, fairness and equality then you should vote for the Labour Party. Why vote for a poor imitation, that has overseen an increase in child poverty and the biggest increase in the working poor since devolution, when you can have the real thing in the progressive Labour Party.”
“Scottish Labour will be putting forward a positive vision for a fairer UK that rejects both the Tories’ plans for a hard Brexit and the SNP’s plans for a divisive second independence referendum.” Kezia Dugdale
At the same time, the leaders of the Green Party of England and Wales, Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, wrote a letter to Labour and the Liberal Democrats saying: “Britain is at a crossroads – and this election will dictate the very future of our country.
“Our call for a meeting between party leaders isn’t about the Greens standing aside – it’s about giving people in this country the best possible chance of defeating the Conservatives and bringing in a truly democratic voting system. For the sake of our NHS, our welfare state and our environment we need progressive party leaders to ditch partisan politics just for a moment and think about how we can best stop the Tories from wrecking our country for generations to come.”
"The SNP wants to break up the UK; it has no interest in making it work better. Independence would lead to turbo-charged austerity in Scotland – not progressive politics.” Jeremy Corbyn MP
Three Labour MPs - Jonathan Reynolds, Lisa Nandy and Clive Lewis - were contradicted by the leadership when they called for the party not to put up a candidate in Richmond Park where they say Liberal Democrats stand a better chnace of beating the Tories.
Supporting Corbyn’s statement, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, said: “I told the NEC there is already is a progressive alliance in the UK: it’s called the Labour Party. The SNP wants to break up the UK - it has no interest in making it work better.
“Only two parties can win this election – Labour or the Tories. Scottish Labour will be putting forward a positive vision for a fairer UK that rejects both the Tories’ plans for a hard Brexit and the SNP’s plans for a divisive second independence referendum.”
Picture courtesy of Ciaran Norris
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