JACKIE Baillie has been panned for a “woeful” interview in which she appeared to blame the SNP for the levels of child poverty in Scotland.

It comes after Keir Starmer revealed his opposition to ditching the two-child cap on benefits and the rape clause.

His comments in an interview with Laura Kuenssberg led to significant backlash from across the political spectrum, including from members of his own party.

Asked whether she was “embarrassed” by what’s happened on Good Morning Scotland, Baillie said: “No look Scottish Labour have a very clear position on this, we’ve not changed that position and we remain completely opposed to the two-child benefit cap because we know it damages families, we know it exacerbates poverty.

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“My understanding of what Keir Starmer was saying is that they are worried about the financial mess that we will inherit from the Tories.”

It was then pointed out to Jackie Baillie that Anas Sarwar (below) had agreed with this, claiming that changing the policy would risk a repeat of the disastrous Liz Truss mini-Budget.

The National:

However, speaking to the Daily Record, Sarwar said Scottish Labour would “continue to oppose the two-child limit”.

Baillie continued: “There is absolutely a recognition as there should be among responsible politicians that we’re not going to be able to do everything immediately.

“We recognise we can’t do everything immediately and my understanding is Keir Starmer doesn’t want to make pledges that he cannot then deliver on.”

She said that it was not possible to know the “financial mess” the Tories would leave should Labour come to power at the next General Election.

Stance on SNP

Baillie continued to expand on her comments after it was pointed out to her that Starmer stood on a manifesto to scrap the two-child cap.

She said: “The party has agreed to reform universal credit and I would expect the two-child benefit cap as part of that process. It’ll be examined as part of that process.

“But I’m very clear. In Scotland it would take 80,000 children, it would have an impact on them, it would cost £250 million. We all care about tackling child poverty.

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“The SNP in Scotland have the power and the opportunity to change this. They haven’t changed it so far and that is the disappointing thing.

“Because we could have ended that cap in Scotland almost immediately because we had the power to do that.”

Baillie's comments on the SNP come despite recent Trussell Trust data stating that the Scottish Child Payment - a benefit unique to Scotland that sees every child under 16 given £25 a qweek in support - is making a "real difference" to food bank use. 

The Scottish Labour deputy leader came in for criticism for her comments from the SNP with Keith Brown tweeting: “Absolutely woeful interview from Jackie Baillie on GMS on two child policy/rape clause.

“It’s now the SNP’s fault! Would not even commit to ‘Scottish Labour’ mitigating the UK Labour’s two child policy if they were in power at Holyrood! Labour are undone.”

Elsewhere, MP Pete Wishart said: “Poor Dame Jackie Baillie in a car crash interview that would embarrass a motorway pile up…

“It would be quite funny if it wasn’t so serious for the poorest children across our country. They are all over the place and nowhere.”

Baillie proceeded to double down on her comments about the SNP, adding: “If we care about tackling child poverty in Scotland which we do, we voted for a parliament to be able to do things differently.

“That’s what devolution is all about. The SNP have the opportunity to end the child benefit cap.”

She added: “The reality is we all voted for devolution because we believed the Scottish Parliament could take different decisions, could do things differently.

“If the SNP cared as much about this as they professed to do, they could have done something about it by now.”

Scottish Labour’s influence

It was put to Baillie that Starmer’s comments showed that all decisions were being taken by the Labour leader and Rachel Reeves deciding on policy.

However, she said that Scottish Labour have “considerable influence” over the party at UK level.

She explained: “We have considerable influence in the Labour Party in the UK. We’ve got a clear policy position on this issue. We’ve had discussions with them since, we will continue to have discussions with colleagues in the UK.

“There’s a national policy forum process that continues. We’re likely to feed into that and there’s discussions on a range of issues from growing the economy to social security and I’m sure this issue will arise as well.

“We will continue to have discussions with colleagues across the UK but do you know we are responsible for our own policy in Scotland. We are very clear about what our position is and that remains.”