Labour will not win the general election just by being “less crap” than the Tories, Angela Rayner has said, as she admitted Scottish voters felt “betrayed” by her party.

The deputy UK Labour leader also said it was difficult for Labour not to be able to promise “abhorrent” Tory policies such as the two-child benefit cap, also known as the rape clause.

However it was necessary to show the party was realistic about what it could afford to do.

“In power you have to make difficult choices and we have to be honest with the public about that,” she told an audience on the Edinburgh Fringe.

Ms Rayner, 43, elected Sir Keir Starmer’s deputy in 2020, made the comments at the Party Political podcast with comedian Matt Forde at Underbelly McEwan Hall. 

Asked if the Labour party had done enough to win over the public enough for a general election victory, Ms Rayner said: “I think part of the problem is that we’ve got to show we can be radical, realistic and responsible. I call them my three Rs.

“Because people don’t want you to be, Oh I’ve got it in the bag, I’ll just be safe and be a little less crap than these people and then they’ll let me in. That’s not the way of getting there.

“But you’ve also got to be able to give people hope for the future, but be realistic about what you’re potentially taking on as well, because the Tories have crashed the economy.

“We are in a bit of a managed decline spiral at the moment.

“So we have to have radicalism like the green prosperity plan and the vision of how we can build the industries of the future, but also the realism of not being able to do everything at the same time. It’s about doing that and showing we’re a united cabinet-in-waiting.”

She said people wanted stability and an end to the “chaos” of recent years under the Tories.

Once the dominant force in Scotland politics, Labour won 41 of the country’s 59 seats, but suffered a backlash after siding with the Tories in the No campaign of 2014.

A year later, Labour was reduced to a single MP in Scotland as the SNP won 56.

Asked about her reception going around Scotland this week, Ms Rayer said people were warming to the party, but acknowledged a lot of people had felt badly let down.

“The landscape towards Labour has changed over the last couple of years. 

“We’ve been working really hard to earn that respect back because I think we lost it in Scotland. People were very emotionally charged. 

“Scotland has always been traditionally quite a Labour area, and I think they felt quite betrayed by Labour for a long time because there was this emotional connection and anger towards us. We’ve been moving, I think, going in the right direction.

“When me and Keir took over it was about being given agreement to be in the room, to be honest, nevermind coming up with what we think should happen to change the UK.

“We’re certainly not complacent and thinking we’re going to romp home.”

She said Labour was making “incremental steps” to prove it could govern well and deliver. 

“That’s quite challenging at times, because we’ve had to say no, we can’t do certain things and that’s frustrated people in the party and outside of it,” she said.

“But it’s about making sure that people see that what we say we’re going to do, we’re actually going to do it and we’ve got the ability to do it.”

In June, Sir Keir announced he had no plans to abolish the rape clause, which limits certain benefits to two children unless parents declare later children were conceived by force. 

Asked if she was comfortable keeping the policy, Ms Rayner said it was “abhorrent”, but the Tories created so many like it in 13 years it was not possible to unwind them all at once.

She said Labour was prioritising free breakfast clubs to tackle child poverty instead.

“Unless we grow the economy and reverse what the Tories have done, we’re not going to be able to do everything overnight, and that is really difficult for us, but we have to get into government to start making that change,” she said. 

“That is difficult, but that’s leadership and being in power. In power you have to make difficult choices and we have to be honest with the public about that.”

She also said that she and Sir Keir were working more constructively than when party members elected them individually to their respective positions.

The larger-than-life politician also warned Just Stop Oil it risked antagonising the public by stopping traffic and other disruptive protests about climate change.

She said: “There’s more inventive ways of getting people on board. Disrupting the general public is not going to bring the general public round to what you’re thinking. 

“They’re sympathetic to what the cause is, you kind of need to bring them with you, and there’s different ways of doing that.

“P***ing them off is not the way to bring them with you, in my opinion.”