Jeremy Corbyn presents a “clear and present danger” to the Union, the Tories warned today as the Labour leader and Nicola Sturgeon prepare to speak at the same trade union event in Scotland.
The Scottish Conservatives published a dossier highlighting comments by Mr Corbyn and senior Labour figures that they said showed he would do a deal with the SNP to get into Downing Street in return for granting a second independence referendum.
Although the Labour leader last week rejected Ms Sturgeon’s suggestion of a “progressive alliance” with his party, the Tories warned he “would sell pro-UK Scots down the river in a heartbeat” if that meant getting into power.
In particular, they highlighted Mr Corbyn’s intervention last month that another independence vote would be “absolutely fine” and his failure to even campaign during the 2014 Scottish referendum.
Their warning came ahead of keynote speeches by Mr Corbyn and Ms Sturgeon this afternoon to the Scottish TUC conference in Aviemore in which they will attempt to woo Left-wing voters.
But Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservative deputy leader, said: "The bottom line is simple - Jeremy Corbyn is a clear and present danger to the Union.”
Highlighting the dossier, he added: “It all points to one clear fact: Mr Corbyn would sell pro-UK Scots down the river in a heartbeat.
"Nicola Sturgeon is trying to use this election to push ever harder for a second referendum on independence. Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour would simply roll over and let her do so.”
Speaking ahead of her address, Ms Sturgeon repeated her claim that the Tories “think they can do anything to Scotland and get away with it” and warned this would only get worse if they won a larger majority.
She said: “The election in Scotland is a two-horse race between the SNP and hard-line Tories. The Tories have taken an extreme position – demanding an end to any opposition at Westminster if they win the election.”
Mr Corbyn is expected to make a series of Left-wing pledges in his STUC speech, including the introduction of a £10-per-hour living wage, repealing the Trade Union Act and requiring companies holding public contracts to recognise unions.
The Labour leader will say that “we are in this election to win it and we will fight for every seat in every corner of these isles.” He will add: “Labour will never, ever apologise for the closeness of our relationship with the trade union movement – you are our family.”
Scottish Labour is attempting to bolster anti-independence credentials but the Conservative dossier included Mr Corbyn’s assertion in August 2015 that he was a socialist, not a Unionist, and his claim that he did not campaign during the 2014 independence referendum because he was “doing stuff” in London.
The Labour leader last week moved to rule out any form of post-election alliance with the SNP as Theresa May warned of a “coalition of chaos”. Tory and SNP claims of a possible deal during the 2015 general election campaign inflicted huge damage on Labour.
However, the dossier also highlighted an intervention he made in 2015 when he said a minority Labour government would be willing to work on an unofficial confidence-and-supply basis with other parties.
It recalled comments by Ian Murray, Labour’s only Scottish MP, warning last year that Mr Corbyn would strike a deal with the SNP. Dave Anderson, his successor as Shadow Scottish Secretary, has also previously argued they should consider an alliance “to prevent another rabid, Right-wing Tory government.”
But James Kelly, Scottish Labour’s general election campaign manager, said: “This is rank hypocrisy from the Tories, who cannot be trusted with the Union.
“Labour will never support independence because of the turbo-charged austerity it would cause, which is one reason why Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out any deal with the SNP – there is nothing progressive about breaking up the UK.”