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REBECCA LONG BAILEY has warned that Labour could never win in Scotland again if they “retreat to the centre” in the ongoing party leadership race.
Speaking at a hustings event in Glasgow on Saturday, the Salford and Eccles MP highlighted what was at stake for Labour as she bids to become party leader.
Underlining the importance of Labour’s history and heartlands in Scotland, the socialist candidate told the Morning Star there has been a breakdown in voters’ trust in the party.
“We [...] need someone who understands what has happened in Scotland. Many of our voters have seen us as part of the Establishment,” she said.
“I’m frightened, if our members think we can retreat to the centre we’re never going to win in Scotland, and we’re never going to win another general election again.
“The Tories and the SNP would love nothing more than for us to play that game — retreat from our transformational policies and try to look centrist.
“We can’t do that as it would be disastrous.”
Instead, she said, Labour must become omnipresent in communities, with knocking on doors during electioneering not enough to spark a revival.
“We need to be at every foodbank, every community centre, in our workplaces organising like we did years ago.
“We are the community, and we need to make sure people see that. That is how we start winning back that trust.”
The hustings, which was attended by hundreds of Labour Party members, saw Ms Long Bailey go up against Lisa Nandy and Keir Starmer following the withdrawal of Emily Thornberry.
Much of the questioning focused on empowering the membership and getting the party to a winning position ahead of next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.
Ms Long Bailey backed greater devolution of powers for borrowing and workers’ rights to the Scottish Parliament, also supporting Scotland’s right to decide when to hold a second referendum.
She claimed that any refusal would be driving Labour voters to the SNP as they did when the party united with the Tories in 2014 for the Better Together campaign.
The shadow cabinet minister reiterated her support for the union, but added: “If Scottish Parliament makes the request for a second referendum, I don’t know how we can refuse that.”
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