Scotland politics

Scottish Labour rules out general election 'deal' with SNP

Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kezia Dugdale has not yet met Mr Corbyn's shadow Scottish Secretary

Scottish Labour leaders have denied they could seek a deal with the SNP at Westminster in future, after the party's shadow Scottish Secretary said he would not rule one out.

Dave Anderson said Labour should "at least think about" uniting with the SNP to "prevent another Tory government".

However, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said she would not support "any deal with the SNP".

The Conservatives had said Labour's policy was to "pal up" with the SNP.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said Mr Anderson's comments showed that only her party would stand up to the nationalists.

Mr Anderson, MP for Blaydon, took up the post of shadow Scottish Secretary after Ian Murray - Labour's only MP north of the border - resigned in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

'Think about it'

Urging the party to unite behind Mr Corbyn during a visit to Aberdeen, Mr Anderson - who has not yet had a meeting with Ms Dugdale in his new role - said he was not prepared to rule out a deal with the SNP "completely".

He said: "If that is the price that we have to pay to prevent another rabid right-wing Tory government, then, I tell you what it is, we have got to at least think about it and discuss it.

"Three and a half years before a possible general election it is a conversation we don't need to have. Obviously Scottish Labour would be the loudest voice in the room if and when we ever have to contemplate coalition."

Image caption Mr Anderson spoke during a visit to Aberdeen

Ms Davidson seized on this, posting on Twitter that Mr Anderson "wants a pact with the SNP".

She said: "Labour's official policy - let's pal up with the SNP. Not oppose them, not challenge them, but do a deal with them."

However, Mr Anderson's comments were roundly condemned by Labour MSPs.

'Cheap shots'

Ms Dugdale hit back at Ms Davidson, posting that "unlike the Tories in 2007-11, Scottish Labour doesn't support any deal with the SNP".

She added: "Quit the hyperbole, innuendo, poor gags, cheap shots and focus on dealing with the Brexit mess your party invited."

She later emailed all Scottish Labour members, telling them at "this is not Scottish Labour policy and we would not support any kind of deal".

Image copyright AP
Image caption Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn campaigned together in the weeks before the EU referendum vote

Fellow Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: "No matter what you read, Scottish Labour does not support a UK gov deal with the SNP. The SNP want to break up the UK not make it better."

And James Kelly added: "Scottish Labour will have no truck with general election deals with the SNP. We won't give power to a party that wants to split the country."

Supporters of Mr Corbyn also denied talk of such a deal, with Neil Findlay saying he agreed with Mr Kelly's position "100%".

The Scottish Conservatives said Labour were "all over the place" on the issue.

Chief whip John Lamont said: "They have a ludicrous situation where the shadow secretary of state for Scotland wants a deal with the SNP, but the leader in Scotland says she doesn't.

"All the while, they will never even have the professionalism to meet and discuss it. It's the latest episode in an absolutely farcical Labour set-up."

Ms Dugdale has previously said she thinks Mr Corbyn should quit as leader, saying that if she had lost the support of the majority of her parliamentary colleagues she would not be able to continue in her job.

In terms of nominations, the leadership race between Mr Corbyn and challenger Owen Smith is tightest in Scotland's constituency Labour parties - although Mr Corbyn still leads by 16 nominations to 13, with many associations still to declare.

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