Jeremy Corbyn Wants To Use The "Energy Of The Referendum" To Beat The SNP
The Labour leader attacked the SNP at the Scottish Labour conference, and told delegates that they were the only real left-wing choice in Scotland.
Jeremy Corbyn has launched a stinging attack on the SNP's record in government and has told Scottish Labour members they must use the energy of the independence referendum to topple Nicola Sturgeon's party in next year's Holyrood election and change Scotland with "the sunshine of socialism".
In his address to the Scottish Labour conference in Perth, the Labour leader, who was speaking for the first time at the annual event, laid into the SNP's record on health and education and said his party was, despite the SNP's rhetoric, the only socialist, left-wing choice north of the border.
The speech – the highlight of a quiet first day of the conference – was well received by Scottish Labour members, with the Labour leader earning a standing ovation both before and after his address.
"Friends, if you want socialist change, if you want a left-wing alternative, you have to vote for it," Corbyn told a crowd of around 2,000 delegates in Perth Concert Hall. "If you're satisfied with rising inequality, rising child poverty, and widening health inequalities – then Labour is not for you.
"If you're satisfied that nearly a million people in Scotland are in fuel poverty or that half of all housing in Scotland falls short of official quality standards, then Labour isn't for you.
"But if you're not content, if you won't walk by on the other side, then vote for a party next May that is a democratic socialist party in both our words and our deeds."
Corbyn repeatedly quoted the Scottish founder of the Labour party, Keir Hardie, who died 100 years ago and was, Corbyn joked, "the last bearded leader of the Labour party".
Ahead of the Holyrood election next May, Corbyn implored Scottish Labour members to combine Hardie's vision with the "energy" which was unleashed in Scottish politics during last year's independence referendum, when 85% of Scotland's electorate turned out to vote.
"I believe that all politics today – not just constitutional politics – is that important," he said. "The sakes are high. When we vote for a government – as we are seeing with these Tories – their decisions have an impact on the lives and life chances of an entire generation.
"That's true for Scotland, it's true for Britain. So let's take the best of the energy the referendum campaign unleashed, and let's fuse that with Hardie's hopeful vision. Let us keep going 'until', as Keir Hardie said, 'the sunshine of socialism and human freedom break forth upon our land.'"
Corbyn will not be present for the rest of the conference, but Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will give her address on Saturday, and deputy Labour leader Tom Watson will give a speech on the final day of conference on Sunday.