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The Reality Is That the SNP Fear a Corbyn-led Labour Party - And So They Should

15/09/2015 18:08 BST | Updated 15/09/2016 10:12 BST

Jeremy Corbyn's first act as new Labour Leader was to attend a rally showing solidarity with refugees fleeing war and terror. In his acceptance speech he made clear his vision for tackling poverty across the country, promised radical change and a real alternative to the austerity driven politics of the Cameron and Osborne.

In that speech, Corbyn gave a clear sign as to who he will stand with and what he will stand for.

This should come as no surprise to anyone - the political debate over the summer has been dominated by Corbyn and no wonder! Jeremy's campaign was based on values with a fresh focus on a future of hope and ambition for all our people. And his quiet, dignified style avoiding personal attacks on political opponents has been refreshingly honest and straightforward. He has gained huge public respect for that approach.

His campaign energised tens of thousands of people , packed out venues from the north of Scotland to the South of England inspiring young and old alike - 16,000 people volunteered to help. And we heard SNP MPs saying they could work with a Corbyn led Labour party.

Yet, the new Leader hadn't even taken to the stage at the refugee solidarity rally in London (his first public engagement as new leader) when Nicola Sturgeon panicked and claimed that Jeremy Corbyn's election victory opened the door to IndyRef 2. "He must prove quickly that he can win an election in five years' time or else Independence would be the only option to avoid the Tories", she said moments after the announcement.

SNP MP Douglas Chapman joined in on the act, spreading the Tory line that Labour had 'just become unelectable'. So much for the SNP's left credentials.

I think most Scots who oppose Tory austerity will feel let down by the fact that Nicola and her SNP colleagues chose constitutional obsessing as their priority, at a time when they could have focused a genuine united front against the cuts. The reality is that they fear a Corbyn led Labour party and a party led by him as a real threat and so they should.

By contrast, in congratulating Corbyn on his victory the new Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale said "People are calling for radical change and straight talk. Jeremy's election shows that the party has listened to that call." And I couldn't agree more.

Sadly the SNP on one of the most historic days for progressive politics in decades chose to focus squarely on the divisive issue of the constitution and not working together to beat the Tory welfare bill, anti-trade union legislation and crippling austerity that impacts on communities across Scotland.

This will be our focus in the next few months and we will be taking these arguments to communities across the Scotland and the UK.

Despite claiming the referendum was a once in a generation choice, the SNP, like the Tories, want to talk about the constitution because they can't defend their poor record in government over the last eight years.

Labour on the other hand will focus on education and closing the gap between the rich and the rest.

Neil Findlay is the Labour Member of Scottish Parliament for Lothian