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Party divided over union

McLeish urges Scottish Labour to settle stance on independence

Henry McLeishFormer First Minister Henry McLeish has urged new Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to make the party’s position on independence clear.

His comments came after Ms Dugdale said she would leave Labour MSPs and MPs to decide for themselves how to campaign in the event of a second referendum.

Mr McLeish said this had left party supporters unclear where they stood. The Scottish party also had to settle its stance with London.

“Are we saying to London that we are ending our historic opposition to independence?” he told radio listeners. “Are we pragmatically saying we adjust our position? This is a huge change.”

Mr McLeish said he would welcome a debate on the issue within the party. He suggested that any new poll should have additional questions to give the voters more choice.

Ms Dugdale’s comments came after it emerged that 30% of Labour supporters voted for independence in last year’s referendum.

Her intervention came after former Scottish leader Johann Lamont suggested the party should have a free vote in any future vote on leaving the UK.

“I want people who voted both Yes and No to see that the Labour Party is the vehicle for progressive change in this country,” she said.

Asked on television whether Labour members should have a free vote, she said: “Yes. Many Labour party members, in fact almost 30 per cent of Labour party supporters, voted Yes. We know that now from all the evidence and I respect that. I’m not going to shut down my party’s renewal and debate because people hold a different position around independence.

“We should have a democratic debate within our party over the big issues of the day.”

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