Labour must come clean on how Scotland can choose own future

Scotland must have a say on our future.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar must make clear how Scotland can choose its own constitutional future, says Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater.

When pushed on the issue of Scottish independence on last night’s BBC leader’s debate, Mr Sarwar said that “it is for the Scottish people to decide what the future of our country is” but refused to say how Scotland can make that decision.

In a letter to her Labour counterpart, Ms Slater has called for him to lay out what that democratic process a Labour government would recognise and how Scotland can have its say.

Ms Slater said: “Time and again the people of Scotland have elected pro-independence majorities in Holyrood and sent pro-independence MPs to Westminster. Yet the Labour Party have lined-up with the Tories to oppose our right to choose our own future and to cast judgement on another decade of Tory cuts and a disastrous Brexit that Scotland rejected.

“In last night’s debate, Anas Sarwar rightly said that it is for the people of Scotland to decide the future of our country, but words are not enough. The Labour Party has opposed all attempts for Scotland to hold a democratic referendum on our future in the aftermath of Brexit and has not said a word about how a UK Labour government would allow Scotland to make a choice.

“I believe that Scotland could do so much more with the powers of a normal independent country. It would allow us to take urgent climate action that is necessary to protect our future, and to tackle the shame of child poverty.

“We may disagree about independence, Anas Sarwar and his Labour colleagues can oppose that all they want. It is a question of democracy. It is time for Scottish Labour to come clean, level with the Scottish people and explain how and when they will allow us to have our say on the future of our country.”

Text of Lorna’s Slater’s letter to Anas Sarwar

Dear Anas Sarwar

I enjoyed debating with you at the BBC leader’s debate last night.

During the discussion on independence, you said “it is for the Scottish people to decide what the future of our country is.” I agree with you, but you have not said anything about how people in Scotland can make their choice known. 

In Scottish elections in 2016 and 2021 the people of Scotland have elected pro-independence majorities to Holyrood, from parties who were explicitly elected on the pledge of holding a referendum on Scottish independence. We have done the same in general elections in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Yet the Labour Party has joined with the Tories in opposing all attempts for Scotland to hold a referendum in that time.

I am sure you will agree that a lot has changed since 2014. We have had 10 more years of Tory misrule that Scotland rejected, including a financial crisis that was created in Downing Street and led to skyrocketing inflation and interest rates.

We have had a Brexit that Scotland opposed, which has seen prices rising, put up barriers for small businesses all over our country and curbed all of our rights to live, study and travel across Europe.

I know that you do not support independence, but this is about democracy. If you believe in democracy and the right of the people of Scotland to decide our own future then you have to be clear about how Scotland can make that choice. 

What process would you recognise? Under what circumstances would a future Labour government support Scotland’s right to hold a democratic referendum?

Many thanks


Lorna Slater

Co-leader, Scottish Greens

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