Scotland politics

How does Scotland view the UK Labour leadership contest?

Greenock Clydeport Image copyright Thomas Nugent/Geograph

The banks of the Clyde in Greenock are an imposing reminder of Scotland's industrial past, littered with shipyard cranes.

For decades this was safe Labour territory. Until 2015, the local MP had been from the Labour Party for 30 years. The party had never lost a Holyrood election here.

But not now.

The MP and MSP are both from the SNP - and Labour members are trying to figure out how to win back what was once a party heartland.

Last year that led the local party to back Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership. This time, they're not so sure.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Labour leader has a definite edge in support from Scottish members

Christina Boyd has been in the Labour Party for 30 years and is backing Owen Smith.

"We need to win back Scotland for Labour," she says. "But the main thing for me is what we can offer to people in Scotland; vote for us, we will be elected as a UK government, we can make a difference to your lives.

"I believe that under Owen Smith we can do that."

James McColgan was one of those who used to think Mr Corbyn could bring the party back to electoral success. Not any more. He too is backing Mr Smith this time around.

Coming back

"I believe that Owen can appeal to a wider section of society," he says. "That's crucial."

That's not what many others here think. Siobhan McCready has the unwanted record of being the first Labour candidate to lose a Holyrood election here.

The SNP overturned a narrow majority of 500 in 2015 - and won by more than 8,000 votes.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Labour's Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale is backing Owen Smith

Ms McCready thinks Mr Corbyn is bringing Labour's natural bedfellows back into the fold.

"I'm a trade union rep," she says in the shadow of a memorial celebrating this area's dockyard workers.

"Every day I'm getting people who have been in the union for a number of years, had left the Labour Party, were just totally disinterested, are now coming back."

'Credible leadership'

She thinks Mr Corbyn can help win Scotland back for Labour.

"He's offering a credible leadership, he's offering a chance to have a Labour government that's going back to its roots, that's standing up for ordinary working-class people."

She was outvoted when the party picked a horse in this race - the party narrowly nominated Mr Smith this time around...but they're in the minority.

From the local parties in Scotland who've picked a horse in this race the majority - 23 - are backing Mr Corbyn. Mr Smith is on 16. But UK-wide, Mr Corbyn's lead over his challenger is far higher. He has the backing of 285, compared with Mr Smith's 53.

'Corbyn's Kryptonite'

MSP Neil Findlay, Mr Corbyn's most prominent cheerleader in Scotland, says the Labour leader has got "very good support" among an increasing party membership in Scotland.

"We picked up nominations which were previously with Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham (in the 2105 contest)," he told BBC Scotland from London, where he has been helping Mr Corbyn prepare for his visit.

Across the UK, many on the left of politics who had previously left the Labour party, are now getting behind Mr Corbyn.

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Image caption Labour lost all its seats in Glasgow to the SNP at the last election

Former Respect MP George Galloway wants back into the party. Filmmaker Ken Loach - who had set up his own party in England - is speaking at pro-Corbyn events.

But is that happening in Scotland too? Colin Fox, from RISE, thinks there's something stopping that happening.

"His opposition to independence is Jeremy Corbyn's Kryptonite in Scotland. The Labour Party's membership has not grown the same way it has down south because he stands opposed to our right to self-determination."

Split on the cards?

Scottish Labour's top team is split. Leader Kezia Dugdale is backing Owen Smith. She says Jeremy Corbyn can't win a UK general election.

Her deputy Alex Rowley disagrees. He's backing Mr Corbyn - and has criticised those who tried to oust him, including Ian Murray, Labour's only Scottish MP and a Dugdale ally.

UK-wide there have been rumours a split could be on the cards. Could that happen in Scotland? She says no.

"When you believe in the Labour Party like I and so many people do, when you believe in that collective...whilst I hear a lot of talk about that I think everybody is ultimately and totally committed to the cause of the Labour movement."

That's a view both Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith have expressed too.

Tonight they'll have the chance to speak to voters - and members here in Scotland.

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