FORMER prime minister Tony Blair spoke to students about Labour’s failings in Scotland last month – and said the party could be rescued if they emulate Ruth Davidson’s (below) successes.

Labour currently has just one MP in Scotland, Ian Murray, and is the third-largest party in Holyrood – but the country was once a heartland for the party.

In 2010 Labour had 41 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats – but that fell to just one after the independence referendum of 2014. In 2017 they picked up six MPs, but lost them all again in December.

The National: Ruth Davidson celebrates her win in the Scottish Conservative leadership campaign in central Edinburgh

Blair, who gave Scotland devolution, was asked for his thoughts on the situation in Scotland by students at King’s College in London.

He was asked if he regretted devolution – but denied that. He said: “If we hadn’t, we would have had a huge problem on our hands.”

He went on to suggest why Scottish Labour has lost relevance over the years. He said: “Now, the Scottish Labour Party just did what the national Labour Party did except more so. Right? In other words, it gave up on New Labour completely, which left the field open then for Ruth Davidson to emerge, which she did. It got confused about whether it should run after the nationalists or take them on – when it should obviously have been taking them on. And then over the recent thing in Europe, it could have been the pro-Union and pro-Europe political party in the centre-left position and it would have done fine.”

He went on to say it “just isn’t correct” that Scots are far-left – adding that the “nationalist” party (the SNP) is made up of “all sorts of different elements”.

He went on: “So, I think the Labour Party was the author, and is the author, of its own misfortunates in Scotland.

“But I think it’s rescuable, because the only politician in Scotland that broke that SNP grip at all was Ruth Davidson.

“How did she do it? By being a charismatic, smart, capable figure, standing in the centre.”

The former PM was a fierce critic of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and has called on the new leader, Keir Starmer, to ditch its manifesto and start again.

This morning Labour MP Murray confirmed a change in approach to Scottish independence. Under Corbyn the party said it would not stand in the way of a second Scottish independence referendum following the first few years of a Labour government. However, Murray said today the party is opposed to independence and a second independence referendum, and will push for some form of UK-wide federalism.

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