It’s not what was in Jeremy Corbyn’s “Standing to Deliver” plan that matters. It’s where he launched it.

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August 14, 2015 by Paul Goldsmith

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Edinburgh

It has been almost year since a Labour politician stepped up to a microphone in Scotland without trepidation at the response they might get when they tried to speak. Such has been the change in the way the political candle was blowing north of the border that some thought Labour could actually be dead there. Then along came Jeremy Corbyn.

I wrote a few weeks’ ago that dismissing Jeremy Corbyn as an electoral liability could be short-sighted and dangerous. I pointed out that the right policy programme and engagement with the electorate could mean that Corbyn may gain votes from the 33% of the population that didn’t vote in May, as well as more votes from people who had voted for the Greens, Socialist parties and the SNP. To that I can also now add some of the “left-behind working class” UKIP voters, many of whom have been found in polls to be interested in what Corbyn offers.

Back to Scotland, and those voters that Labour lost to the SNP. Many of them genuinely fired up by the Nationalist cause, they saw Westminster as having nothing to offer them, and sent a message through voting for the SNP, sending 56 MPs to London to agitate for them.

However, some of those voters were also conned by the SNPs highly convenient stated conversion to socialism, which is backed in no way shape or form by policies they have actually put into place whilst in charge in Scotland. Not one single redistributive policy has been enacted, despite the Scottish government having the powers to vary tax rates by 3%, which could, for instance, have allowed them to increase the higher rate of tax to 48% and lower the basic rate of tax at the same time. No, this faux socialism was all about demanding more money from London, no more no less.

So, IF the Westminster Labour party offered a genuine socialist, those voters could come back. Jeremy Corbyn is that genuine socialist, and if the party actually votes him in, many Scottish voters could come back to Labour.

This may be why he chose to launch his “Standing to Deliver” policy programme in Edinburgh at a rally described by Lynsey Bews of the Press Association as having some “#yes style energy to it”. More ominous for the SNP, according to the Herald’s Iain MacWhirter, was the people at that rally had voted ‘Yes’ last September, and they were saying that Labour has come home if Corbyn wins.

The fact is, none of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall would make even the slightest dent in Scotland if they won. Jeremy Corbyn would, and I think the Labour Party need to think carefully about the 50 or so seats that might win them.

p.s. The plan consists of the following – taken from Corbyn’s leadership website:

  • A new kind of politics: a fairer, kinder Britain based on innovation, decent jobs and decent public services.
  • Growth not austerity – with a national investment bank to help create tomorrow’s jobs and reduce the deficit fairly. Fair taxes for all – let the broadest shoulders bear the biggest burden to balance the books.
  • A lower welfare bill through investment and growth not squeezing the least well-off and cuts to child tax credits.
  • Action on climate change – for the long-term interest of the planet rather than the short-term interests of corporate profits.
  • Public ownership of railways and in the energy sector – privatisation has put profits before people.
  • Decent homes for all in public and private sectors by 2025 through a big housebuilding programme and controlling rents.
  • No more illegal wars, a foreign policy that prioritises justice and assistance. Replacing Trident not with a new generation of nuclear weapons but jobs that retain the communities’ skills.
  • Fully-funded NHS, integrated with social care, with an end to privatisation in health.
  • Protection at work – no zero hours contracts, strong collective bargaining to stamp out workplace injustice.
  • Equality for all – a society that accepts no barriers to everyone’s talents and contribution. An end to scapegoating of migrants.
  • A life-long national education service for decent skills and opportunities throughout our lives: universal childcare, abolishing student fees and restoring grants, and funding adult skills training throughout our lives
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