JEREMY Corbyn is the answer to the challenges posed to the Labour Party by independence, Richard Leonard claimed yesterday.

During a speech to an audience of party members in Glasgow, Leonard said arguments of a democratic deficit and fears of Tory rule “ad infinitum” had been smashed apart by the emergence of Corbyn.

The new Scottish Labour leader admitted that during 2014’s referendum, it was the Yes campaign who were seen as being on the side of “hope and optimism” while Labour and Better Together were “on the side of fear”.

Leonard said: “My reading of what happened in 2014 is that those of us who campaigned for a No vote were seen to be on the side of negativity, were seen to be on the side of fear, and those who campaigned for a Yes vote were seen – fairly or not – to be on the side of hope and optimism.

“I think we are now in a position where the Scottish Labour Party is starting once again to be on the side of hope and optimism.”

“Part of the narrative of the 2014 referendum was that we were told that the Tories were going to be in power ad infinitum and the only way to escape Tory Britain was to build an independent state in Scotland.”

Answering a question from MSP Elaine Smith about how to win back voters who had left the party during the referendum, and who felt abandoned by Labour, Leonard said: “This is the answer. Jeremy Corbyn’s principled and authentic leadership, campaigning on a manifesto which stood for something clear, stood for something distinctively Labour, stood for something confidently Labour, a manifesto which talked about extending public ownership, which talked clearly about ending austerity and lifting the public sector pay cap.

“A manifesto which talked about a redistribution not just of wealth but of power. These were messages which resonated with people and I think they are the messages we will bring to Scotland and will win people back, some people who have never voted for us, some people who used to vote for us and don’t anymore, but they will also re-energise those people who have stuck with us throughout and reach out as well to young people.”

Corbyn in his speech promised to spend more time in Scotland now that Leonard is in charge of Labour north of the Border.

The UK leader promised an audience in Glasgow he would be up so often that they would become “bored” of him.

He also claimed that support for Labour would grow as people engaged with the party.

They were, he claimed, offering “hope and optimism and confidence in people and their communities’’.

SNP MSP Ivan McKee said Corbyn’s Labour had been disappointingly incapable of properly fighting the Tories .

“We’ve got arguably the most incompetent Tory government ever to hold office, and still Labour are hopelessly failing to hold them to account.

‘‘Only the SNP is standing up to the Tories and demanding real action when it comes to ending austerity, giving workers a pay rise, stopping further brutal cuts to welfare and investing more in public services.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “A major test on the horizon for Richard is the forthcoming budget negotiations. Labour failed miserably this time last year when they decided to turn their face to negotiations from day one, meaning the party did nothing to protect local services.”