Pensions

Jeremy Corbyn snubs Gordon Brown with no meeting as the Labour leader visits Kirkcaldy (From The National)

JEREMY Corbyn will not meet Gordon Brown when he visits the former prime minster’s home turf on Fife today.

Brown notably failed to mention the UK Labour leader in campaign speeches he made ahead of the June 8 General Election. And despite heading to the former PM’s Kirkcaldy constituency today, no meeting will take place between the two men.

Corbyn will instead attend community events in the town before appearing as a guest speaker at a “Battle of the Bands” event where he will address 1200 young voters.

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A Labour insider admitted Corbyn and Brown would not meet. “There’s not a meeting with Gordon Brown in Kirkcaldy tomorrow,” he said.

Brown failed to mention Corbyn by name during major speeches he gave in May during the General Election campaign.

He warned against giving Theresa May a “blank cheque” on Brexit and said the UK’s divorce with Brussels could harm the UK’s manufacturing industry, but his comments in Coventry were largely overshadowed by his apparent refusal to back the Labour leader in public.

The snub followed the refusal by Tony Blair to back Corbyn for Prime Minister – and other Labour politicians omitting him from their election leaflets. But the attitude among New Labour figures appeared to soften after Corbyn’s campaign came close to toppling the Tories, adding 30 more seats including seven in Scotland – up six from its disastrous 2015 result.

Corbyn has been on a five-day visit to Scotland this week and yesterday hit out at the UK Government’s “completely illogical path” with its welfare policies.

The Labour leader attacked plans to close Jobcentres and benefits offices as he addressed a rally in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire.

Trade union members are protesting against the shutdown of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) centre in the town, which could see 250 workers moved to Motherwell and Glasgow. Corbyn, who was joined by local Labour MP Hugh Gaffney for the rally, was mobbed by supporters as he left the venue to visit a steel plant in nearby Cambuslang.

His appearance in Coatbridge marked the Labour leader’s third day of a five-day trip to Scotland where he is targeting marginal seats held by the SNP.

A spokesman for the DWP said: “The changes we are making to our estate across the country will offer a more efficient service and deliver good value for the taxpayer – saving more than £140 million a year for the next 10 years.

“The way we are making these changes means we expect less than one per cent of DWP staff across the country will be unable to continue with us.

‘“As an example, staff in Coatbridge will be moving to other nearby sites in Motherwell and Glasgow. This will secure jobs and increase capacity in this area.”

During his visit to Kirkcaldy today, Corbyn will pledge to protect the free bus pass as he meets pensioners, restating his party’s commitment to the concessionary travel scheme the day after a consultation was launched on raising the age at which Scots can obtain the bus pass.

The Scottish Government is proposing to increase the age of eligibility amid rising numbers of older people and a £9.5 million budget cut for the scheme.

Corbyn, who has already visited the Wester Isles and Glasgow will also promise that a Labour government would keep the triple lock on state pensions and protect the winter fuel allowance after Tory plans to means test the benefit south of the Border.

He is expected to say: “Labour will extend the welfare state from the cradle to the grave. People who have spent their lives paying into the system deserve something back.

“That is why Labour will protect pensioner incomes by legislating to keep the triple lock on state pensions, protecting the pensions of more than one million Scottish pensioners and guaranteeing them a basic income necessary to live a dignified life in retirement.”

An SNP spokesman: “Jeremy Corbyn supports the Tories’ extreme Brexit, which threatens tens of thousands of Scottish jobs.

“He also leads a party which backs dumping a new generation of Trident nuclear missiles in Scotland at astronomical cost, money which should instead be spent on schools, hospitals and public services.

“There is nothing remotely progressive about that.”

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