Labour deputy leader makes election plea to SNP voters

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Labour’s deputy leader has made an election pitch to SNP voters as the party seeks to attract support ahead of the next general election.

Angela Rayner, speaking at the STUC Congress in Dundee on Tuesday, said the SNP viewed independence as a “silver bullet” to the problems facing Scotland, but Labour could provide the change sought by the party’s supporters.

Scotland’s ruling party, she said, was too “warped by their internal wars” to deliver the change the Scottish people are “aching for”, adding that the Tories “never will”.

“I totally understand your desire for change, I share it,” she said.

“I recognise your desire to get rid of the Tories, I share it.

“I know you dream of a brighter future, it’s a dream that both me and (Sir Keir Starmer) share.”

Both she and the Labour leader, Ms Rayner said, “know what it’s like to graft, squeeze and penny pinch”.

“The SNP act as though independence is a silver bullet,” she added.

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner on a train
Angela Rayner was speaking at the STUC Congress in Dundee on Tuesday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Rayner pointed to NHS waiting times, drug deaths and child poverty as particular failings of the SNP in government.

“That’s the SNP legacy, and it’s working people that are paying the price,” she said.

“Each and every day, they are showing they are not the answer to the question and that Humza Yousaf is not the man to resolve it, either.”

She added: “The choice is simple, the choice is clear.

“Only Labour has the vision and the energy to stand up for Scotland. Only Labour can deliver a new deal for Scottish working people.

“Labour is ready to lead in Scotland once again, you are Labour, and together we can build a better and brighter future for all.”

The party’s deputy leader also took aim at the UK Government, attempting to paint Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as out of touch with the issues affecting regular people.

Ms Rayner said Mr Sunak – who she described as the “patron saint of private jets, heated home swimming pools and non-doms” – was shielding the richest in society from the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

“The same old ideology from the same old Tories,” Ms Rayner added.

“They incentivise the richest by giving them more, and incentivise the rest of us by taking it away.”

Ahead of her address to the STUC, Ms Rayner announced that a Labour government would ban zero hour contracts as part of its “new deal for working people”.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of people on zero hour contracts rose from an estimated 46,000 between October and December 2013 to 94,000 in the same period last year.

“Labour is the party of working people and for working people – the clue’s in our name,” she told delegates.

“The next Labour government will build on our long, proud history with a new deal for working people, for all working people.”

Responding, SNP MP Philippa Whitford said Ms Rayner’s comments amounted to a “patronising lecture” directed at Scots.

She added: “Independence isn’t just about an escape from the Tories, but a clean break from the broken Westminster system that’s inflicted a hardline Brexit, that Scotland didn’t vote for, and a cost-of-living crisis that’s hammering households across the country.

“The truth is that the pro-Brexit Labour Party offers nothing to the people of Scotland but a pale imitation of the chaotic Tory rule.

“The solution to main issues impacting families across Scotland isn’t a changing of the guard at Downing Street – it’s securing the full powers of independence that would allow Scotland to create an economy that works for the workers, not the other way around, and build the greener, fairer and more equal nation we know is possible.”

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