A second referendum on Scottish independence should not be held any time in the near future, the frontrunner to become UK Labour leader has said.
Speaking to The Courier ahead of a packed-out rally in Dundee University’s Dalhousie Building, Jeremy Corbyn rejected the idea of holding another vote on the constitution, despite comparisons being made between his campaign and the narrative used by the SNP.
He said any potential decision about Labour’s stance would be for the Scottish party to make but he fully expected it to once again campaign for the continuation of the United Kingdom.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has so far refused to rule out calling another referendum if, as polls predict, the SNP increases its majority with another Holyrood landslide next year.
Mr Corbyn said: “Obviously it is the right of people to decide what they want to do but the last time there was a referendum I was told by Alex Salmond it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I don’t know how many lifetimes were involved in this.
“I don’t think another referendum would be credible and I don’t think it is particularly likely.
“I think issues now are about the way in which the powers which have been devolved to Scotland operate, the funding of Scotland and particular issues surrounding welfare, as well as spending on education, particularly college education, and issues around the running of the economy such as privatisation of rail and of Calmac.”
The left-winger whom consecutive polls have put way out in front to see off Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendal to take control of the party said Labour “weren’t offering anything different enough” at the last two elections to defeat the Conservatives.
He said the party needed to “be proud and discover its roots again” and have a strong link with trade unions and the working class to win back votes from the SNP in cities like Dundee.
“Ever since the early 90s there has been a mindset and thought process by the Labour Party at a UK national level, which is that there is a very large bedrock of people who have nowhere else to go so they will vote Labour,” he added.’
“Yes, they did vote Labour in ’97 but they systematically stopped voting Labour in 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015, and it’s a question of connecting with it and the party not just being a voter ID machine but actually being more of a community-based organisation which is at one level very traditional but at another it joins in with the pan-Europe, American style of youth movement.”
Mr Corbyn admitted he had never met either of the Scottish Labour leadership candidates, Kezia Dugdale and Ken Macintosh. He stressed they would be in control of the party’s strategy north of the border but expressed his hope that time would be spent using Holyrood’s powers to oppose UK Government welfare reforms.
“I’m looking forward to meeting them both and, whoever gets elected, I’ll be happy to work with them,” the London MP said.
In the wake of stinging criticism from former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Ms Cooper, he insisted his campaign was about policy, not personal attacks.
“We absolutely do not engage in the politics of condemnation, personal attack, personal abuse or attacking anybody else’s credibility,” he said.
“Our views are out there. People can agree with them or disagree with them.”