Scottish Labour leadership candidate Ken Macintosh has called on his colleagues to stop "personal attacks" on Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn, the frontrunner to become leader of the UK Labour party, has been criticised by several leading Labour figures – most recently New Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell, who has told members to vote for "anyone but Corbyn".
Macintosh, who is contesting the Scottish Labour leadership against Kezia Dugdale, told BuzzFeed News he has become "annoyed" at people in the Labour party criticising Corbyn rather than offering their own vision.
"I'm not afraid of democratic debate, or robust debate, it's when it veers over into these personal attacks," said Macintosh. "Offer an alternative, that's the best thing to do. Of course you can criticise views, but be careful about the language you use and remember we're colleagues."
Macintosh, who is seen as the underdog in the leadership contest against former deputy leader Dugdale, compared himself to Corbyn. He thinks Corbyn is a principled outsider who is winning over the grassroots of his party, whereas Dugdale represents "the party machine".
"I don't mind making comparisons [between himself and Corbyn]," said Macintosh. "First of all, he had to fight to get on the ballot in the first place and so did I, but Jeremy speaks with integrity... he's saying what his values and opinions are and I recognise that honesty and integrity."
Macintosh was criticised for standing against Dugdale rather than allowing her to stand unopposed and start the job of rebuilding Scottish Labour after a disastrous election in May which left the party with one seat. Dugdale received 90% of the support from constituency Labour parties, but Macintosh believes a "coronation" of Dugdale would have been a mistake.
"People didn't want a contest – they just wanted someone to take over – that's human nature and I understand that, but it's not a good reason," he said. "A coronation would be a ridiculous idea. I want to stand up and say we've been doing things badly, we've been too negative, and I want to go into next year's election with hope."
To win the next election, the next Scottish Labour leader will have to win over a significant number of people who voted SNP in May's general election.
However, Macintosh said he is concerned that opposing the renewal of Trident – the UK's nuclear weapon programme, which the SNP campaigns against – would "create instability", and that there is little chance of Labour dropping its opposition to Scottish independence.
"I can't see why we would change our mind [on independence]," said Macintosh. "Devolution is the answer, not independence. One of the things I'm so frustrated about is the fact we've spent the past four years talking about nothing but constitutional change. We need so stop complaining about the powers we don't have and start using the ones we do have."
Despite polls showing the SNP on 62% support in Scotland ahead of next May's Scottish election, Macintosh said Scottish Labour can win and he can become first minister.
"There's this ridiculous idea that we're going to lose every seat. If we talk like that it's like running the white flag – I'll be fighting to win."
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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