Labour leadership hopefuls grilled at Glasgow hustings

Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca-Long Bailey and Lisa Nandy were grilled by party members in Glasgow.

Labour leadership hopefuls grilled at Glasgow hustings

Labour leadership contenders have put forward their arguments as the hustings arrived in Glasgow – all three stressing the need to win back support in Scotland.

Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy were grilled on topics such as a second independence referendum on Saturday as they look to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.

They all highlighted the importance of Labour winning back support in Scotland as a route back to power across the United Kingdom.

Glasgow: Labour Leadership Hustings
Glasgow: Labour Leadership Hustings

Nandy said: “There is no route to government that doesn’t run through Scotland, but the challenge of this is absolutely enormous.”

She added: “We have to start winning in every region and nation of the UK, because we have to show we are a national party of government.”

Similarly Starmer said: “We can’t win without Scotland so we have to rebuild in Scotland.”

Long-Bailey also echoed that, telling activists at the event: “We won’t win a general election without Scotland.”

Long-Bailey was the only one of the three remaining candidates to explicitly state she could support a fresh ballot on independence.

Asked directly if the Scottish Parliament should have the power to stage a legally binding vote on independence, she said: “I’m proud to be from the United Kingdom but as a democrat I have to say that if the Scottish Parliament makes the request for a referendum I don’t believe that as a democratic party we could refuse that.”

Her comments came after MSPs at Holyrood voted by 64 to 54 last month in favour of a second independence referendum taking place.

If there is a second vote on Scottish independence she said Labour could make a “positive campaign” for the union.

But she added: “We can’t fall into the trap we did last time where we joined forces with the Conservative Party on Better Together.”

Hustings: Richard Leonard opened with a speech.
Hustings: Richard Leonard opened with a speech.

However Starmer said that by backing a second independence vote, Labour could be falling into a “trap” set by the SNP.

He said the issue of Holyrood having the power to stage a fresh ballot on the issue was “an interesting question” but added: “We shouldn’t get sucked straight into that. The SNP are constantly using the constitutional issue to mask the real issues, and if we get into that we are falling into their trap.

“Let’s have a wide discussion about where we go next, but let’s be bold about it.”

He argued that Labour should support “radical federalism as the way forward” for the UK.

Meanwhile, Nandy said she believed in a “much more radical power settlement than federalism with power pushed out to local authorities”.

She told Labour Party members: “I believe in the United Kingdom and I think we have to be absolutely clear about that and we have to stand up for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom.

“We can hand power to people and give people agency and control over their own lives again by handing more powers to our councils.”

The ballot for leadership voting opens on Monday, February 24, and closes on Thursday April 2.