Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ignored several invitations to campaign in Scotland ahead of the independence referendum in 2014, according to Scottish Labour MPs he worked with at the time.
Three Scottish Labour MPs from the time of 2014's referendum told BuzzFeed News that Corbyn, along with the rest of the Labour MP group, received several messages asking him to campaign in Scotland – but he never came.
The MPs said Labour's then-leader, Ed Miliband, issued a "very firm" instruction that all Labour MPs should campaign in Scotland ahead of the vote, and, according to them, most of their colleagues took the time to visit.
Corbyn's commitment to the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK was questioned last week when he said another referendum would be "absolutely fine" and went on to say "it should be held".
The Labour leader later said the quotes were a result of "mischievous misreporting" and said he was "absolutely clear" that he did not want to see another referendum on Scottish independence.
Corbyn's team confirmed to BuzzFeed News that he did not campaign at all in Scotland during the referendum, saying many other English MPs didn't and he felt it was "a matter for the Scottish people".
However, "All Labour MPs were instructed to campaign in Scotland," one former Scottish Labour MP told BuzzFeed News. "Ed Miliband was very firm about it – some came many times."
Another MP added: "It wasn't just one Ed Miliband email, there were loads of emails encouraging colleagues to help in Scotland when they could. Pretty much all the [parliamentary Labour party] came to Scotland but I'm not sure Corbyn did at all."
Corbyn didn't attend a mass Labour campaign day in Glasgow in September 2014, now remembered for the moment when dozens of Labour MPs were chased down Sauchiehall Street by a man playing the "Imperial March" from Star Wars.
Another former Scottish MP said of the campaign day: "No one would have expected him to turn up. He wasn’t exactly a team player; few of us had a personal relationship with him. He never even turned up at the PLP."
A source close to Corbyn confirmed that the Labour leader did not campaign at all during the first independence referendum in 2014, claiming that "many English MPs" didn't campaign during the period.
"As a backbencher, Jeremy felt it was first and foremost a matter for the Scottish people," said the source. "If there is a second referendum, as leader, he will, of course, be campaigning vigorously."
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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