Jeremy Corbyn criticised by Scottish colleagues for immigration remarks
Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said he was ‘incredibly disappointed’ by his comments at the party’s conference in Dundee.
Senior Scottish Labour figures have criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s “incredibly disappointing” comments on immigration, likening them to the views of former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray attacked remarks on leaving the EU made by the UK Labour leader in his speech to the party’s conference in Dundee on Friday.
Setting out his position on the Brexit deal, Mr Corbyn said a future Labour government “cannot be held back inside or outside the EU … from preventing employers being able to import cheap agency labour, to undercut existing pay and conditions in the name of free market orthodoxy”.
.@kezdugdale: "How can it be that our party, by supporting a customs union but not the Single Market, can be at peace with the free movement of tractors, grain and widgets... but not people?" #ScotLab18 '— Scottish Labour for the Single Market (@SL4SingleMarket) March 10, 2018
Speaking at a fringe event hosted by the Scottish Labour for the Single Market campaign, Mr Murray said: “I’m disappointed that the Labour party is not making this argument – immigration is good for the United Kingdom and Scotland and we have to be brave enough to stand up and make that point.
“And I was incredibly disappointed to see yesterday that the only person smiling after that passage in Jeremy’s speech would have been Nigel Farage.”
Mr Murray said he believed the Labour front bench was the biggest impediment to getting single market membership into the Brexit bill but added: “The country is with us, Labour party membership is with us.
“I think one big push (and) we might be able to get the Labour front bench into the right place as well.”
Ms Dugdale said the Labour party had “allowed the myths of EU immigration rules to be perpetuated by our own failures to take on these difficult arguments for decades”.
She added: “Our party, a party of internationalism and equality, one that believes in freedom, hope and opportunity, should be one that’s at peace with making the positive case for immigration.
“A party that doesn’t just accept – but proactively argues – that our country is culturally deeper and economically richer because of immigration, not despite it.
“A party that states clearly and unequivocally that your troubles finding a job, getting a house, or seeing your doctor are caused by the Tories austerity ideology, not your Polish next-door neighbour.
“Every day we fail to do that, is a day in which Nigel Farage and his kin get up smiling.
“How can it be, that our party, by supporting a customs union, but not the single market can be at peace with the free movement of tractors, grain and widgets, but not people?”
Ms Dugdale insisted that the debate in the party over single market membership was “not about personalities, egos or factions”.
“It’s a healthy democratic discussion – one I hope we can debate in the finest traditions of our movement, fuelled by passion, conviction and hard truths,” she said.