LABOUR leadership contender Owen Smith said the Scottish party has failed to grasp the buoyant sense of national pride percolating through the country.

In an interview with The Herald, the former shadow work and pensions secretary suggested Labour’s failure north of the Border could be partly attributed to not fully understanding Scottish patriotism and identity.

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“We have to learn the lessons about the lack of understanding Labour showed for Scottish patriotism, Scottish identity,” he said.

“There is a reason we are in power in Wales and not in Scotland. We learned in Wales you have to understand that rising sense of national pride and national identity and fuse our values with it. We have to use that to create a sense of national mission and purpose.”

Mr Smith, who will deliver a campaign speech in Scotland next week, believes his party will have to revive and win more Westminster seats in Scotland if it is to have “a serious chance” of gaining power at the next General Election.

The challenger to Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour crown also makes clear that if he wins, then there will be “no backroom deal” with Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP to keep the Tories out of office if a hung parliament looks the likeliest outcome in 2020.

However, the Welsh MP, who campaigned strongly for Remain, said he was sympathetic to the First Minister’s attempt to keep Scotland in the EU despite the UK vote for Brexit, stressing how, if he became Labour leader, then he would be “fighting alongside her to keep Scotland and the rest of the UK in the EU”.

Mr Smith believes there should be a second referendum to enable voters to give their verdict on the negotiated deal with Brussels.

In the past two years, Labour’s fortunes in Scotland have fallen dramatically, losing 40 seats at the 2015 General Election, leaving it with just one MP north of the Border, and being driven into third place at Holyrood by Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives after losing 13 Scottish parliamentary seats.

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Mr Smith said his “British New Deal” of investing £200 billion in the country’s infrastructure, raising wages and limiting the “wild increases” of top company bosses will appeal massively to ordinary Scottish voters.

“That’s what they want to hear – a traditional Labour platform,” he said.

It has been calculated that if Labour did not revive and win seats back in Scotland in 2020, then it would need a larger landslide in England than the party achieved under Tony Blair in 1997. So could Labour win in four years without a Labour revival in Scotland?

“Honestly, we need to revive in Scotland if we are to stand a serious chance of forming a majority Labour government. It’s difficult but it’s do-able,” declared the Pontypridd MP.

He pointed to the 16 per cent Tory opinion poll lead, describing it as “an Everest to climb” but he was sure Mr Corbyn was not the man to scale it. He might draw thousands of people to his rallies but the party leader was “not persuasive to the wider country. Jeremy has not been persuasive in Scotland; we’ve gone backwards in Scotland”.

Before the 2015 General Election, Ms Sturgeon held out the prospect of some sort of parliamentary deal with Labour to keep the Tories out of power. Ed Miliband eventually rejected it. Asked if, faced with the prospect of another Tory government in 2020, he might consider such an option, Mr Smith was blunt in his response.

“No, for two reasons. One is I don’t think the SNP is a proper social democratic party. Just look at the radical difference; They were in favour at the last election of cutting corporation tax further in this country, I’m in favour of putting it up. That’s a pretty fundamental difference between us and them.

“Second reason, I don’t think we should be talking about backroom deals; the public hates them. They want conviction politicians who say what they believe and do what they say. I am a conviction politician. I believe fundamentally in what I’m saying and it shouldn’t be compromised with backroom deals.”But there was more alignment with the SNP leadership on Brexit. Mr Smith, a keen Remainer, has suggested there should be a second EU referendum on the terms of the precise deal the UK Government negotiates with Brussels.

Given 62 per cent of Scottish voters supported Britain staying in the EU, the First Minister has begun a bid to look at all options to ensure “Remain means Remain” for Scotland. The Labour leadership contender made clear he had a great deal of sympathy for Ms Sturgeon’s initiative.

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“Some 67 per cent of Labour voters voted to stay in; Scotland voted to stay in. I definitely have sympathy for it. She is right to continue fighting on this. If i win, I will be fighting alongside her in order to keep Scotland and the rest of the UK in the EU,” insisted Mr Smith.