Scottish Labour left figures argue Corbyn surge is the reason for victory in seven seats
LEADING figures on the left of the Scottish Labour party have claimed its electoral breakthrough for UK leader Jeremy Corbyn and his leftwing policies.
The party won seven seats in Scotland, up from one in the 2015 General Election. The party increased its number of seats across the UK by 29, destroying the Prime Minister Theresa May’s hopes of increasing her majority ahead of Brexit negotiations in a few days time.
In Scotland the SNP won 35 seats, down from 56 in the 2015 General Election. The Scottish Conservatives increased their number of MPs from one to 11.
Labour exceeded expectations across the country, taking amost 13 million votes.
Speaking to CommonSpace, leading leftwing MSP and convenor of the Campaign for Socialism in Scottish Labour, Neil Findlay, said: “This election result was remarkable and a personal and political triumph for Jeremy Corbyn. The programme he put forward in a manifesto built in his image caught the imagination of the public, inspiring young and old alike to vote for Labour’s vision full of hope and optimism for a better future.
“This election result was remarkable and a personal and political triumph for Jeremy Corbyn. The programme he put forward in a manifesto built in his image caught the imagination of the public.” Neil Findlay
“In Scotland we won seven seats and in a host of others very narrowly missed out. It is clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda struck accord with voters across Scotland. As his campaign manager in two leadership elections I have always had every faith in his ability to connect with Scottish voters and on the evidence of this election I think that faith has been well placed.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale claimed that the “first” reason people backed Labour was its opposition to a second independence referendum, though she also said that Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies were another reason.
Dugdale opposed Corbyn’s Labour leadership elections in 2015 and 2016.
The Labour turnout was historic. Almost 13 million voted for Labour, not far shy of the 13.5 million New Labour won in its 1997 landslide.
Many of Labour’s new seats across the UK were won in areas previously thought to be out of bounds to the party.
Speaking to CommonSpace Ewan Gibbs, an historian of the labour movement and a lecturer in sociology and social policy at the University of the West of Scotland, said that Corbyn had destroyed received wisdom about UK politics.
He said: “This election has demonstrated the falsehoods behind the predominant assumptions about regional and national ideological affiliations in the UK.
“In particular, Labour was able to win on a platform that suggests a viable future for a left-wing social democratic agenda not just in England’s cities but post-industrial areas of England and Wales too. Labour comfortably held on to Brexit voting seats like Darlington. It won important battles by taking Keighley , Cardiff North and Ipswitch from the Tories.”
“It’s also become clear that contrary to predominant assumptions, Scottish politics is being reshaped by UK level dynamics. In particular Mayism’s emphasis on the national interest and a reasserted Britishness on the one hand and the alternative presented by Corbynism on the other have had a marked impact.”
A key Scottish Labour doorstep campaign organiser and head of the Chair of Glasgow University Labour Club, Nathaniel Blondel told CommonSpace that Corbyn’s ideas resonated with the public.
“Day in, day out, people on the doorstep returning to Labour cited Corbyn and our manifesto. Our candidates were new and worked fantastically hard, and we rode the Corbyn wave. His consistent opposition to the Iraq War brought back people who had abandoned the party in 2003.
“Most of all, we won seats back by appealing to material needs. We offered something tangible and transformative. It’s safe to say it wouldn’t have happened with another leader.”
May is expected to form a government with the help of the hard right Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
However, the new government could be very unstable and some leading Conservatives are questioning May’s ability to remain on as prime minister.
Picture courtesy of Andy Miah
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