Anglo-Scots divisions widen

Labour accused of ‘bizarre’ antics as Holyrood MSPs condemn McDonnell

John McDonnell in Airdrie

John McDonnell: accused by his party, the SNP and a historian (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish Labour’s antics over a second independence referendum were today described as “bizarre” as the party’s MSPs released a statement condemning comments earlier this week by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

He told a Fringe conversation event that Labour would allow the Scottish parliament and people to decide whether to hold another poll – contradicting Scottish Labour’s policy.

In a written pledge of support for Scottish leader Richard Leonard the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party today said it has already opposed a “divisive and unnecessary” second independence referendum and will campaign tirelessly to ensure Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom.

It said the people of Scotland were told that the 2014 independence referendum was a once-in-a-generation contest.

“The SPLP support the stance taken by Richard Leonard as our leader and back the policy position that he outlined,” said the statement. “We deplore any attempts to undermine the official policy position of the Scottish Labour Party and we express serious concerns about an apparent change in Labour’s position on a matter of vital importance to the future of Scotland and of the Scottish Labour Party itself. 

“Scottish Party policy is very clear – that is opposition to a second independence referendum. There is therefore an urgent need for the UK Party leadership to engage constructively with the Scottish Party leadership on the issue of the Party’s stance on the future of Scotland. 

“We are clear Labour’s position on Scotland’s future is a decision for Scottish Labour, which the UK Party must accept. We expect all Scottish Labour MPs and MSPs to vote in accordance with party policy.”

The SNP said Scottish Labour was taking an “increasingly bizarre” stance in opposing the right of people in Scotland to have a choice over their future and warned that denying people’s right to determine their future in an independence vote would seal the party’s fate.

George Adam MSP said: “Scottish Labour’s position is becoming increasingly bizarre.

“It’s hard to think of a time in recent years when they’ve been more vocal than this week’s frenzied backlash to the suggestion that people in Scotland should have a choice over their own future.

“The UK leadership recognises that democratic right – why don’t Labour in Scotland? Labour’s position in Scotland is fundamentally anti-democratic.”

Mr McDonnell has also come in for criticism after stating at a second Fringe appearance that be ”sending Jeremy Corbyn in a cab to Buckingham Palace” if Mr Johnson did not vacate No 10. 

Historian David Starkey said Mr McDonnell’s suggestion would amount to a ‘coup’.

“I’m afraid Mr Corbyn would be arrested. The disguise has come off John McDonnell – he’s a revolutionary communist,” he told the Telegraph.

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