JACKIE Baillie clashed with SNP MP David Linden after she claimed that people should support Labour because child poverty in Scotland is “too high”.

Appearing on Channel 4, Linden interrupted to ask what “parallel universe” Baillie was talking from, given that UK Labour supports the two-child cap on benefits.

Keir Starmer has refused to commit to scrapping the Tories’ policy, which prevents a person from claiming benefits for third or subsequent children, unless they can prove the child is a result of rape.

Scottish Labour has tried to play both sides, calling the policy “heinous” while also backing Starmer’s position.

Michael Shanks, the Labour candidate in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election race to replace Margaret Ferrier, has claimed on the campaign trail that he would rebel against his party leader over the two-child cap.

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The issue was brought up repeatedly as Baillie and Linden both appeared on Channel 4 to talk about the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

Asked if Labour were offering change, Linden responded: “The idea that the Labour Party somehow offers change will be met with a degree of incredulity in Rutherglen and Hamilton West given that we have a Labour Party that is thirled to the disgraceful two-child policy and appears also to support the Bedroom Tax.

“So I think when Jackie Baillie and her colleagues are going round the doors in Rutherglen and Hamilton West they will have to explain how they offer change whilst being thirled to Tory policy.”

In turn, Baillie (below) said she had been round “many, many doors in Rutherglen and Hamilton West and people are saying they think Scottish Labour can be the change that this constituency needs and indeed that the country needs”.

The National:

She claimed that a vote for Labour was an opportunity to both “boot out the Tories in No10” and hold the SNP government “to account”.

But Linden said that, while knocking doors, SNP campaigners had been hearing people ask: “Who is Keir Starmer? What does he stand for?”

He said that voters in Scotland saw Starmer only as a “pale imitation of the Tories”.

Baillie was then asked if Scotland’s voice at Westminster wouldn’t be better served by a large SNP group rather than a “bunch of compliant Scottish Labour MPs who have to subjugate their opposition to Keir Starmer’s policies”.

The Scottish Labour depute leader rejected the characterisation, saying her MPs would “stand up for people in Scotland”.

She went on: “We have had, frankly, a number of SNP MPs down at Westminster and they have not changed anything. Child poverty in Scotland, under their watch, remains too high.”

Here, Linden cut in: “In what parallel universe does Jackie have the temerity to lecture us on child poverty when her party supports a two-child limit?"

Baillie then cut in herself, saying: “I’m in Rutherglen, you’re not.”

But Linden went on: “A two-child limit that is tantamount to social engineering.”

Baillie then insisted that Labour had plans for an “ambitious child poverty strategy”.

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Figures published in March showed that UK-wide child poverty figures were five percentage points higher than in Scotland.

Those figures only covered the period to March 2022, before the full roll-out of the Scottish Child Payment.

This policy, which is Scotland exclusive, sees every child north of the Border paid £25 per week regardless of their birth order.

It will go some way to mitigating the Tories’ two-child benefit cap, with an expert from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) saying earlier this month that the payment’s impact was likely to be “really quite significant”.

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election is expected to take place in the autumn, with October a tentative date.

It was necessitated after Ferrier, a formerly SNP MP, was removed by her constituents through a recall petition.