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Labour MSP: Scotland’s future must be decided in Scotland

Leading figures in Scottish Labour have openly questioned the party's opposition to a second independence referendum.

Monica Lennon: Scottish Labour MSP. STV
Monica Lennon: Scottish Labour MSP.

Leading figures in Scottish Labour have openly questioned the party’s opposition to a second independence referendum.

After a disastrous election result in which Labour lost seats to the SNP, MSP Monica Lennon said the “future of Scotland must be decided by the Scottish people”.

The party’s Holyrood health spokeswoman said while she was opposed to independence “people in Scotland have voted in very large numbers for the SNP, including many Labour voters”.

Lennon told the Sunday Mail: “The SNP blueprint for independence is flawed and will disappoint many progressive Scots who are fed up with austerity.

“Nevertheless, the future of Scotland must be decided by the people of Scotland.”

Former Scottish Labour MP Ged Killen, who lost the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat to the SNP, signalled his agreement on Twitter.

He said: “I campaigned on a promise to vote against indyref2, but I lost. The SNP made massive gains on a promise to hold another referendum and, as democrats, we must accept it even if we don’t like it.”

Their comments came after Labour councillor Alison Evison, the president of the local authority group Cosla, said democracy could be strengthened “by enabling the voice of Scotland to be heard through its formal processes”, adding “that must mean a referendum on independence”.

Meanwhile, another defeated MP, Paul Sweeney, said the party must look at backing “radical reform” for a more federal United Kingdom.

Sweeney, who had been the MP for Glasgow North East, said while he did not believe independence would be the best outcome for Scots “we cannot tolerate the status quo any more”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme, he said the constitutional issues of independence and Brexit had “bedevilled” the Labour Party.

“We’re a party that is set up to deal with class and social justice issues, we’re not really set up to deliver a particular binary issue on a constitutional question,” he said.

“That has really bedevilled us over the last five years because these two big monumental constitutional issues have really split the Labour vote.”

The former MP recalled that in the 1980s and 1990s, Labour successfully argued the “dysfunctional” UK necessitated the creation of the Scottish Parliament.

He added it was still “quite clear the British state as currently constructed is not sustainable”.

He said: “Certainly a more confederal or federal relationship is something that urgently needs to happen and we need to be galvanised to present an argument that that needs to happen, and the British Government needs to recognise that that is a reality.

‘You need a new argument for the union which isn’t rooted in Queen and country unionism.’

Kezia Dugdale

“I think we need to develop a clear policy that is actually a form of an ultimatum.

“We say to the British Government, unless you recognise the body politic at large in Scotland is not willing to accept the current status quo of the British state and has to recognise that there needs to be a major engagement with the Scottish body politic to reform the British state and recognise the difference of opinion in Scotland, the United Kingdom is unsustainable.

“I think we need to present that as an ultimatum, you need to present an option on confederation, radical reform, to make the UK a more federal construct.”

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said opponents of independence needed to find a new argument for keeping Scotland in the UK.

Ms Dugdale, who stood down as an MSP earlier this year, told No campaigners: “You’re wasting precious time arguing about mandates. Last referendum won by persuading centre-left voters 1) EU membership only safe in UK 2) A progressive Labour gov was on the horizon 3) Currency and Economic security.

“Reasons 1 and 2 have melted away and the Yes movement have been working on 3 since 2014.

“You need a new argument for the union which isn’t rooted in Queen and country unionism.

“You need this regardless of whether referendum is next year or in a generation.”


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