Scotland politics

Gordon Brown delivers poverty warning in campaign speech

Gordon Brown Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The former Labour prime minister said social justice was a defining issue

Levels of poverty will be higher in the UK under Theresa May than they were under Margaret Thatcher, Gordon Brown has claimed.

The former Labour prime minister used a campaign speech in Fife to say voters were caught between the "extremes" of Scottish and Brexit nationalism.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said Labour were "incapable" of defeating the Conservatives at the election.

Ruth Davidson accused Mr Brown of "taking us back to the 1990s".

In his speech in Kirkcaldy, during which he made no mention of UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Gordon Brown used forecasts from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) to suggest 320,000 children living in Scotland would be in poverty by 2022.

He said that nationalism offered "no answers" to tackling the problem and that social justice should instead be the "defining issue" of the general election on 8 June.

'Not capable'

Mr Brown also warned that Theresa May should not be given a "free hand" or "blank cheque" at the election and insisted it was imperative to "send Labour MPs to parliament to fight a war against poverty".

However, SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, insisted that only the SNP could protect Scotland from the "full force" of policies from a future Conservative government.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ms Sturgeon said Labour were 'not capable' of beating the Tories at Westminster

She told the BBC: "Gordon Brown's making the same 'single transferable' speech that he's been making for a couple of years.

"The fact of the matter is that Labour has proved that it's not capable of defeating the Tories.

"Partly it is down to the chaos at the heart of the Labour Party that the Tories are so far ahead in England."

She added: "Tory MPs will simply be a rubberstamp for whatever Theresa May wants to do. We need MPs that will stand up for Scotland and make our voice heard."

'Second referendum'

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said Mr Brown represented "old Labour" and also called for the SNP to take the "threat" of a second vote on independence "off the table".

She said: "Gordon Brown is taking us back to the 1990s here today.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ruth Davidson said her party was concerned about the future of Scotland's young people

"What we want to talk about is our young people and we know that the union that really matters to Scotland is our union within the United Kingdom and that's why we want Nicola Sturgeon to take her threat of a second referendum off the table."

She added: "I think that Gordon Brown today has got a message to old Labour to try and shore up the Labour vote, whereas the Scottish Conservatives are talking about the future and the future of our young people."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie echoed the sentiments of Ms Sturgeon that Labour were incapable of defeating the Conservatives, but insisted his party was the main challenge to the SNP in many marginal seats.

He said: "Labour are incapable of providing a competent opposition and we really need a challenge to the Conservatives because they cannot have it all their own way and that's why the Liberal Democrats are standing to be a fairer and competent voice for our country. That's what we need at this really challenging time."

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