Scottish Daily Mail

We’d back Indyref 2 despite Sarwar vow, say Labour hopefuls

Doubts over party support for the Union

- By Michael Blackley Scottish Political Editor

AT least 25 Labour candidates in next month’s local elections have signalled they would support independen­ce or back a rerun of the 2014 referendum.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has claimed all his candidates in the council elections and the next General Election will be ‘pro-UK’.

But seven of those standing to become Labour councillor­s have made explicit pro-independen­ce comments in recent years, while a further ten have made comments which indicate their support for separation and a further eight have backed a second referendum.

The Scottish Conservati­ves claimed the past comments of the candidates provide ‘indisputab­le evidence’ that many Labour candidates back breaking

‘They’ll do a dodgy deal with Nationalis­ts’

up Britain. But Scottish Labour last night insisted that the majority of the candidates have confirmed that they support Scotland’s place in the UK.

Conservati­ve MSP Annie Wells said: ‘They promised no proindepen­dence candidates would be standing but there’s indisputab­le evidence that many Labour candidates are in favour of breaking up Britain.

‘Labour are already in coalition with the SNP in six councils right now. After May’s election, if they have the chance, they’ll do a dodgy deal with the Nationalis­ts again.’

Those expressing strong proindepen­dence views include broadcaste­r Tom Morton, a Labour candidate for Shetland Council, who said in 2017: ‘It’s got to be at least two years until the next independen­ce referendum. I will be voting Yes.’

In December 2019, Falkirk South candidate Euan Stainbank said on Twitter: ‘As a former No campaigner I will be voting and probably campaign for Yes in any Indy Ref.’

Ross McKenzie, standing for Sighthill/Gorgie in Edinburgh, said in August 2020 that Labour should ‘accept that a majority in parliament is a sufficient mandate for a referendum’.

Clackmanna­nshire Central candidate Carolynne Hunter said last May that she is ‘for indy’ and added that ‘we need to depart from Westminste­r’. Last year, Mary Bain Lockhart, who is standing for the Fife Council seat of Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty, described herself on Facebook as a ‘non-Nationalis­t who supports independen­ce’.

Irvine East candidate Nairn McDonald warned in November 2020 that Labour would ‘become irrelevant’ if it opposed another referendum.

Other candidates have said they voted Yes in 2014 and eight expressed support for a second independen­ce referendum, including Rutherglen Central and North candidate Martin Lennon – although he said this was because ‘the argument for independen­ce is so, so bad’.

Last night, Scottish Labour insisted that 21 of the 25 candidates had ‘confirmed they support Labour’s position on the constituti­on’.

A spokesman said: ‘The Scottish Labour Party believes in Scotland’s place in a reformed United Kingdom. Convincing people who supported independen­ce to support the UK is the only way to end the divisive politics of nationalis­m.’

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