Jeremy Corbyn has urged voters to set aside the Scottish independence battle in the run-up to the Westminster election – claiming that only Labour can “transform the lives of Scots”.
The opposition leader kicked off his election campaign amid wintry conditions in Aviemore yesterday with a reminder that “this is a general election, it is not a referendum”.
Trailing in the polls, Mr Corbyn also took aim at critics who claim his defeat on June 8 is a “foregone conclusion”, vowing that “we are in this election to win it”.
The Labour leader refused to take questions from the press as he arrived and left the blizzard-hit Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) at the Macdonald Aviemore Resort conference centre.
In an address that was arranged at short notice and was made on the same day as a later speech by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the prospective prime minister received standing ovations from STUC delegates, whom he repeatedly called “comrades”.
He promised to defy the doubters, inside and outside his party, who fear he has a mountain higher than the nearby Cairngorms to climb if he has any chance of making it to 10 Downing Street.
“While the timing of the election was unexpected, the choice is clear and the stakes are high,” he said.
“But 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 these isles.”
He added: “Much of the media and establishment are saying that this election is a foregone conclusion. They think there are rules in politics which if you don’t follow you don’t win.
“So you start doffing your cap to powerful people accepting their parameters so nothing can really change. Comrades, it is when you start doing that, that you really can’t win.”
In a pitch to woo back the party’s former supporters, many of whom have switched allegiance to the SNP in recent years, Mr Corbyn claimed that it was only Labour who can stop the “vicious” Conservatives.
He said: “It is the Conservatives, the party of privilege and the richest, versus the Labour Party, the party that is standing up for working people to improve the lives of all. That is the real choice.”
In a later speech in Dunfermline, Mr Corbyn launched a direct attack on the SNP’s record in government, claiming it had “failed in all policy areas as they systematically forget the day job and obsess about the constitution”.