Scottish Labour agrees review of election despite talk of indyref2 support

Scottish Labour has agreed to conduct a review of the losses it sustained in the general election, despite talk the party was poised to support a second independence referendum.

Reports previously suggested Richard Leonard’s party could be “more willing to consider supporting a second referendum” if it was in the form of a multi-option ballot, featuring a federal alternative.

However there was no formal proposal on the issue discussed at a meeting of Scottish Labour’s executive committee in Glasgow on Saturday, and it will instead be the subject of an “away day” in the near future.

The meeting did approve the election review, with its findings expected in March.

Ian Murray is now the only Labour MP in Scotland after his re-election in Edinburgh South, as the party suffered heavy losses on December 12.

After Saturday’s meeting, Mr Leonard said: “Representatives of all sections of our party – constituency delegates, trade unions, socialist societies and elected representatives – agreed to consult on the outcome of last month’s general election.

“As part of that, our policy on federalism will be developed to ensure that it resonates with people across Scotland.

“The result of this consultation will form the basis of the approach Scottish Labour will take as we look forward to putting our positive case before the people of Scotland at the 2021 Holyrood election.

“As I set out shortly after last month’s election, I want Scottish Labour to hold a swift, evidence-based review of the result and the lessons we must learn as a party.

Iain Gray and Linda Stewart
Iain Gray and Linda Stewart

“We must in particular consider our position on the constitutional questions which dominated the general election campaign – namely Scotland’s constitutional future and our relationship with the European Union – drawing on our tradition as the party of devolution.”

He also announced Linda Stewart, a former chair of Scottish Labour, and academic Professor David Conway will help lead the review.

Mr Leonard added: “Over the next few weeks, the review team will take evidence from election candidates and party activists to inform their conclusions.

“The review team will then report back to the March meeting of Scottish Labour’s executive, which will examine the political and organisational lessons which we must draw.

“Scottish Labour members, activists, staff, elected representatives and affiliates worked exceptionally hard during the general election campaign, and I am deeply sorry that it did not pay off with a better result.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has confirmed his willingness to surrender to the SNP over #IndyRef2

If you want to end the division, tell them here:

— Scottish Conservatives (@ScotTories) January 10, 2020

“But I know that the process we have agreed to today will allow us to listen and learn and that we will stand together to fight and win again.”

But Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs called it “another humiliating result for Richard Leonard”.

He added: “He was pushing for his party to give in to the SNP on indyref2, but he’s been stopped by his own executive.

“This just goes to show the chaotic state that Scottish Labour are in at the moment.

“They are all over the place when it comes to Scotland’s place in the union, and the infighting will only continue.

“The only thing that is clear after this is that you can’t trust Labour to stand up to the SNP and their plans for indyref2.”

SNP Westminster deputy leader Kirsty Blackman MP said: “This is a huge blow to Richard Leonard, who appears to be Scottish Labour leader in name only – having been fatally undermined by his own party’s executive committee.

Scottish Independence march
Scottish Independence march

“Scotland is about to be dragged out of the EU against our will by a Tory Prime Minister we didn’t elect, after a decade of Tory austerity governments that we didn’t vote for.

“If in the face of that devastating reality Labour sides with the Tories again and seeks to deny the people of Scotland a choice over our future, they will sink even further into irrelevance.

“The SNP won a landslide victory at the general election on a cast-iron mandate to hold an independence referendum.

“We will work across parties and society to ensure the democratic right of the people of Scotland to choose our own future is respected.”

Kenny MacAskill
Kenny MacAskill

The Labour executive meeting came as newly-elected SNP MP Kenny MacAskill, a former member of the Scottish cabinet, called for a “coming together” of parliamentarians and others around the issue of indyref2.

He wants politicians from both Holyrood and Westminster to be involved, as well as trade union bosses and others – similar to the Scottish Constitutional Convention set up to campaign for devolution in the days of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.

The meeting also coincided with a pro-independence march in Glasgow which organisers said involved 80,000 people.