Labour move to ac­cept SNP man­date for sec­ond ref­er­en­dum

●Elec­tion re­sult shows the peo­ple of Scot­land must de­cide, se­nior fig­ures say

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By SCOTT MACNAB Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

Se­nior Labour fig­ures have come out in favour of al­low­ing Holy­rood to stage a ref­er­en­dum on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence.

Shadow health sec­re­tary Mon­ica Len­non said the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment must be al­lowed to de­cide on the is­sue, while de­feated Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West MP Ged Killen said the SNP now has a man­date for a vote on leav­ing the UK af­ter their vic­tory north of the Bor­der last week.

And last night Scot­tish Labour leader Richard Leonard in­di­cated the party would be look­ing to shift its ap­proach ahead of the 2021 Holy­rood elec­tions as he an­nounced a re­view of the elec­tion cam­paign and ad­mit­ted: “Rather than ex­pect­ing the peo­ple of Scot­land to come home to us, Scot­tish Labour must in­stead come home to them.”

UK cabi­net min­is­ter Michael Gove in­sisted yes­ter­day that Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son would not grant a Sec­tion 30 order which trans­fers power from West­min­ster to Holy­rood al­low­ing a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum to be held.

But First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon warned that Scot­land can­not be “im­pris­oned” in the UK af­ter the SNP won 48 of Scot­land’s 59 seats in last week’s elec­tion. Ms Len­non has ad­mit­ted that “many Labour vot­ers” were among those who backed the SNP last week. “As ex­pected, Ni­cola Stur­geon is pre­sent­ing that as an en­dorse­ment of her party and will now ask the UK gov­ern­ment to per­mit a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence,” she said.

“If Boris John­son isn’t pre­pared to grant this re­quest, he should al­low the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment to de­cide. The

Scot­tish Labour still lacks au­ton­omy and was un­der­mined dur­ing the elec­tion by its UK lead­er­ship, Richard Leonard has pri­vately ad­mit­ted – five years af­ter the party was branded a “branch of­fice”.

The Scot­tish Labour leader told a marathon six-hour post-mortem into Labour’s elec­tion dis­as­ter that its pol­icy on a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum was “not clear”, and warned that the party had to as­sert con­trol over its own cam­paign mes­sage ahead of the 2021 Holy­rood elec­tions.

Mr Leonard sug­gested trade union mem­bers had turned their backs on the party, ad­mit­ting that the elec­tion re­sult, which saw the SNP win 48 out of 59 con­stituen­cies, re­flected the views of work­ers in unions af­fil­i­ated to Labour.

A leaked minute of Satur­day’s meet­ing of the Scot­tish Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee also re­veals se­nior fig­ures in Scot­tish Labour want Jeremy Cor­byn to stay in place, de­spite lead­ing the party to its worst de­feat in al­most a cen­tury.

The Scots­man un­der­stands mem­bers of the Scot­tish Labour ex­ec­u­tive were in tears as they raked over a cam­paign which ended with the party los­ing all but one of its MPS in Scot­land for the sec­ond time in four years.

Satur­day’s meet­ing brought to­gether mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive, in­clud­ing Mr Leonard and de­feated shadow Scot­tish sec­re­tary Les­ley Laird, as well as party gen­eral sec­re­tary Michael Sharpe and Ian Mur­ray, the only sur­viv­ing Scot­tish Labour MP.

Ac­cord­ing to the minute writ­ten by Ed­in­burgh coun­cil­lor and SEC mem­ber Scott Arthur, Mr Leonard told the meet­ing that Scot­tish Labour pol­icy on Brexit was “drowned out by UK Labour’s po­si­tion”.

“The In­dyref2 po­si­tion was not clear and not as dis­tinc­tive as the TORY/SNP pol­icy – this was not helped by com­ments from RUK Labour politi­cians,” the sum­mary re­ports.

Mr Leonard said that the party must “form a con­sti­tu­tional con­ven­tion now to form a co­her­ent po­si­tion”.

And he ad­mit­ted that the “au­ton­omy of Scot­tish Labour needs to be more clearly stated,” adding that “party own­er­ship of the strat­egy for 2021 must be com­plete”.

Mr Leonard, who has sug­gested a na­tion­wide lis­ten­ing ex­er­cise in the wake of

Labour’s de­feat, also told the SEC that the party “need[s] to un­der­stand the views of the public more”.

Other mem­bers of the SEC told the meet­ing that the party’s man­i­festo “did not have dis­tinc­tive Scot­tish poli­cies” and said Mr Leonard did not have a high enough pro­file.

The meet­ing also dis­cussed the fact that “shadow Cabi­net vis­its to Scot­land [were] of­ten not help­ful”. Shadow chan­cel­lor John Mcdon­nell con­tra­dicted Scot­tish Labour pol­icy on in­dyref2, say­ing it would not be blocked by the party.

They also noted that Mr Cor­byn’s past as­so­ci­a­tion with the IRA was viewed from a “sec­tar­ian per­spec­tive” in the west of Scot­land.

There was a damn­ing as­sess­ment of the cam­paign from Ms Laird, who was de­feated in Kirk­caldy and Cow­den­beath de­spite her SNP op­po­nent be­ing sus­pended and hav­ing all of­fi­cial sup­port re­moved.

She told the SEC that “party struc­tures were not fit for mod­ern cam­paign­ing” and that Scot­tish Labour had “no mem­ber­ship strat­egy”.

Mr Mur­ray, who warned in his speech on elec­tion night that “this party will die” un­less it changes, told the meet­ing that Labour was “not elec­tion ready at the UK level”.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­utes, Mr Mur­ray said: “We all need to put the party first. We need a story to tell and a lead­er­ship that can tell it. We need to take our head out of the sand – the elec­tion loss was not about Brexit, it was about lead­er­ship.”

In a state­ment, Mr Leonard said; “Af­ter Thurs­day’s dev­as­tat­ing elec­tion re­sult, it is cru­cial that we learn the lessons of our de­feat. We owe this to Scot­land’s com­mu­ni­ties, work­places and most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

“In the com­ing weeks we will be con­duct­ing a swift ev­i­dence-based re­view of the elec­tion. Our start­ing point is that rather than ex­pect­ing the peo­ple of Scot­land to come home to us, Scot­tish Labour must in­stead come home to them.

“Nei­ther the sta­tus quo nor the SNP’S vi­sion for sep­a­ra­tion of­fers the way for­ward for Scot­land. The 2021 Scot­tish Par­lia­ment elec­tions are less than 18 months away, the cam­paign starts now.”

“Af­ter Thurs­day’s dev­as­tat­ing elec­tion re­sult, it is cru­cial that we learn the lessons of our de­feat”


Scot­tish Labour leader Richard Leonard: ‘The party must form a con­sti­tu­tional con­ven­tion now to form a co­her­ent po­si­tion’

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