Labour’s shadow health secretary has accused the SNP of employing “grievance politics” in Westminster, saying the party’s House of Commons leader is a “career politician”.
Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North since 2015, was speaking at Iain Dale’s All Talk show at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, where he said Scottish Labour is “back in business”.
Speaking on the SNP’s Westminster presence, he said: “I mean honestly, in Westminster it’s just kind of grievance politics. It’s always constant whinging, complaining and pretending they don’t have any agency.”
The MP said the SNP say they lack “freedom” and say the Scottish Government “doesn’t have significant freedoms in terms of tax policy, in terms of domestic policy”.
He added: “The fact is, if I were a Scot, I would want to be an MSP, not an MP, because the issues that I care most about, issues that drive me are around public services, equality, and social justice.
“The Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament; they have so much freedom to do their own thing. And I don’t think the SNP can get away with saying, ‘oh, the reason that child poverty is rising in Scotland is because of the Tories’.
“I think they have to take some responsibility, too, and take some responsibility for their choices. But we’re sort of used to them now and I’ve noticed the change in the SNP in the last eight years.”
He said SNP MPs are “at each others’ throats” in Westminster.
Mr Streeting then critiqued the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.
He said: “His career was studying politics at university, studying politics and international relations at masters level, becoming a researcher for the SNP at Holyrood and Westminster, becoming a councillor, becoming a member of Parliament.
“If anyone’s got the CV of a career politician, it’s Stephen Flynn.”
His comments came as Mr Flynn previously accused him of being an “identikit politician”.
Mr Streeting also said Scottish Labour is “back in business”, and he believes the SNP is on the decline.
He said: “The extraordinarily explosive implosion of the SNP has put wind in our sails.
“But whether it’s UK Labour with Keir (Starmer), or Scottish Labour with Anas (Sarwar), there wouldn’t be a ship-shaped vessel with sails, without a leadership that’s been shown to change the Labour party, or UK Government.
He added: “Here, in Scotland with Anas Sarwar who I think people look at and I think even his political opponents in the Tories and the SNP would say, ‘here is someone who is objectively a credible candidate for First Minister of Scotland’.
“I think you are now in a position where people are taking him seriously. The dynamic has changed.”
In response to Mr Streeting’s comments, SNP social justice spokesperson David Linden MP said: “The SNP supports independence because we want Scotland to have the full powers to build a fairer, greener and wealthier country.
“In contrast to the pro-Brexit Labour Party, we want people in Scotland to have the maximum agency to make the best decisions for Scotland.
“The SNP Government has led the UK on progressive policies – including taking 90,000 children out of poverty with the Scottish Child Payment, building the highest levels of affordable housing in the UK, and investing record funding in our NHS.
“Wes Streeting can’t just gloss over the damaging impact the pro-Brexit Labour Party’s policies are having on Scotland, including Brexit, which has cost Scotland billions and is fuelling the cost-of-living crisis.
“Nor can he ignore the fact that shameful Labour Party policies like the two-child cap and bedroom tax are pushing 20,000 Scottish children into poverty.
“At the next election, voting SNP is the only way to secure independence and escape the damage of Westminster control for good.”