Scottish Labour has been urged to “grasp the nettle” and support a second independence referendum.
Len McCluskey, who was general secretary of Unite the Union between 2011 and 2021, suggested that the party is “stagnating”, as he insisted that it must address the constitutional question.
And McCluskey, a close ally of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said that Scottish Labour is “completely out of touch” with ordinary, working class people in Scotland.
The former trade union chief was speaking during a visit to Scotland to promote his autobiography
“The reality is that if an election is called next year, as we stand at the moment, Labour will make very few if any gains in Scotland, therefore the idea of a Labour overall majority in Westminster is impossible,” he told the PA News Agency.
“Labour can not win an overall majority in Westminster without Scotland.
“It can achieve a hung parliament, and as a minority it can form a government, although to do that Keir Starmer would have to win back the red wall seats in England and I struggle to see how he is going to do that.”
McCluskey pointed to the migration of Labour voters to the SNP, who first won power at Holyrood in 2007.
“The Scottish Labour Party is in a worse position that the rest of the national Labour Party, the Scottish Labour Party is stagnating and has done for a while now,” he said.
“It is completely out of touch with ordinary working class people in Scotland, we have lost thousands, droves and droves of Labour voters have moved over to the SNP.
“And that has been going on for some years now, Scottish Labour weren’t listening to the trade unions, they certainly weren’t listening to me when I was general secretary and telling them to wake up and smell the coffee.”
An “imaginative approach” should now be taken by Scottish Labour towards the issue of independence, the former union boss suggested.
“I believe Scottish Labour really needs to grasp the nettle, they need to talk about independence question,” he stated.
“They should support a second referendum, even if they are not declaring at this stage whether they support independence or not.
“But they have to have an imaginative approach, they should, in my view, embrace the concept of federalism and devo-max, to try to breath some new life back into the party, otherwise Labour could be lost to another generation in Scotland.”
He continued: “I know comrades in Scotland can say, ‘what the hell has it got do to with you, keep your nose out’ but Scotland is very close to my heart.
“I come from Liverpool, I’ve got Scottish blood in me, and all my life I have looked up to Scotland and the radicalism of Scotland. It breaks my heart what is happening at the moment, as all I see is stagnation.
“That is what is stamped on the foreheads of literally all the leaders of Scottish Labour. And I appeal to them to rub that stagnation off, start to talk about imaginative, radical alternatives.”
A Scottish Labour spokesman did not directly respond to the suggestion made by McCluskey, but added that he is “entitled to his views”.
“We have a good relationship with our trade unions and are doing the hard work necessary to rebuild the Scottish Labour Party,” they said.
“Mr McCluskey is a private citizen and is entitled to his views on a range of issues.”
SNP MSP Natalie Don took aim at Scottish Labour and its leader, Anas Sarwar.
“Scottish Labour’s slide into irrelevance in Scotland will continue as long as they keep supporting Westminster control in Scotland – and Len McCluskey’s comments underline that,” she said.
“As long as Anas Sarwar continues to be an apologist for callous Westminster Tory policies – and to stand with the Tories in denying people the democratic choice of a referendum they have already voted for – Scottish Labour will move further and further away from working class people in Scotland.”
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