Scotland politics

Election 2017: Corbyn urges Scottish voters to reject 'vicious' Tories

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Media captionMr Corbyn was speaking at the STUC congress in Aviemore

Jeremy Corbyn has urged Scottish voters to help Labour oust the "vicious" Tories from government.

The Labour leader told the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) that the election would be "the people versus the powerful".

And he pledged to repeal the Trade Union Act as part of his campaign to "stand for the many, not the few".

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and Scottish first minister, also addressed the conference on Monday.

She insisted that the election in Scotland is a "two-horse race" between her party and "hard-line Tories".

And she argued that the bigger the Tory majority, the more they will think "they can do anything to Scotland and get away with it".

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed that a vote for either Labour or the SNP will threaten the Union between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

And the Scottish Liberal Democrats said they were the only party that was campaigning to "keep Scotland at the heart of the UK and the UK at the heart of Europe".

The UK will go to the polls on 8 June after Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans for a snap election last week, which was subsequently endorsed by MPs by 552 votes to 13.

Campaigning to win

Opinion polls released over the weekend suggested that Labour remains in third place in Scotland, well behind the second-placed Conservatives - with the SNP continuing to hold a large lead over its rivals.

But despite his party also appearing to trail the Conservatives across the UK, Mr Corbyn used his speech to the STUC to insist that he is campaigning to win the election.

He told delegates in Aviemore: "This is a general election, it is not a referendum. Only Labour can form a government and offer an alternative that will transform the lives of people in Scotland.

"The truth is that the Tories and the SNP are obsessed with their power struggles against Brussels and Westminster when the energy should be used to change and transform our economy, to ensure that no-one, and no community, is left behind."

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Media captionMs Sturgeon told the STUC that only the SNP has the strength to "stand up to the Tories"

Mr Corbyn pledged that "one of the very first things we will do when forming our Labour government" will be to repeal the "Tory Trade Union Act".

Among other measures, the controversial legislation introduced by David Cameron's government brought in a threshold for workers voting in strike ballots for action to be legal.

Mr Corbyn went on: "Let no-one be in any doubt: we are in this election to win it and we will fight for every seat in every corner of this islands."

The Labour leader painted the Conservatives as the "party of privilege and the richest", and said Labour was instead "standing up for working people to improve the lives of all".

'Party of progress'

He added: "Only us or the Tories can form a government and I implore people in Scotland to fight for the party of progress and not the vicious Tory party."

A Labour government under Mr Corbyn would also carry out an inquiry into the practice of blacklisting, and into the "Battle of Orgreave" in the miners' strike, where striking workers clashed with the police.

He also pledged to make jobs "better and more secure" with a real living wage of £10 an hour by 2020 and stronger rights at work, and to "upgrade our economy to create wealth for all".

Mr Corbyn was due to make a speech in Dunfermline later on Monday, where he was to again rule out any sort of post-election deal with the SNP - who he accused of "systematically forgetting the day job" and obsessing about independence.

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Image caption Ruth Davidson has argued that a vote for either the SNP or Labour would threaten the Union between Scotland and England

In her own address to the STUC congress, Ms Sturgeon said the Conservatives' vision for the UK should be "ringing alarm bells" across Scotland.

She said that Tory "hardliners" had taken over the party and now wanted to take the country in a direction that "UKIP could only have dreamed of" a few years ago.

Ms Sturgeon said: "The Tories have taken an extreme position - demanding an end to any opposition at Westminster if they win the election.

"The bigger the Tory majority the more they will think they can do anything to Scotland and get away with it.

"That will mean more cuts, more attacks on low-income families and a hard Brexit. Only the SNP has the strength to stand up to the Tories and make Scotland's voice heard."

Ms Sturgeon also suggested Theresa May had chosen to call a snap general election before alleged Tory expenses fraud in 2015 "catches up with her".

She added: "Whatever our politics, we should all stand up against that rightward drift of the country that the Tories are determined to effect."

And the first minister stressed that the Scottish government wanted to work with trade unionists to "build a fairer country".

'Provide leadership'

Elsewhere, the Tories turned their fire on Mr Corbyn, who they claimed would "roll over" and allow Ms Sturgeon a second independence referendum.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "The choice for Scottish voters at this election is between the Conservatives standing up for the Union and focusing on getting the best deal in the Brexit negotiations, or Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP putting our nation's future at risk.

"Corbyn couldn't be bothered to campaign in the independence referendum and he has already said he would do a deal with the SNP. And the last time he was in Scotland he said he was 'absolutely fine' with a second referendum.

"On top of that, there's no way he could get a good deal from the other European leaders.

"Only the Conservatives can bring the SNP's nationalist caravan to a halt and provide the leadership we need to get the best possible deal out of Europe."

Scottish Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "We stand to keep Scotland at the heart of the UK and the UK at the heart of Europe.

"Every vote that goes to the Liberal Democrats is a vote against a Tory hard Brexit, it's a vote against the division of another independence referendum and it is a vote for an open, tolerant and united Britain."