Boris Johnson – Keir Starmer urged to consider indyref2 if Labour wants to get back into government
THE Labour party cannot ignore the “obvious and real demand” for Scotland to determine its own fate if they want to get back into government at Westminster again.
Neal Lawson, a director at the progressive think tank Compass, wrote for The Guardian on Monday discussing the various routes towards a second vote on independence.
He urged Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, to be “fully prepared” to negotiate the terms of a second independence referendum with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.
As the SNP are likely to win a majority in May’s Holyrood election, Lawson said the party could go for a “Catalan-style” form of civil disobedience referendum.
He added that this is unlikely due to the SNP’s ambition to rejoin the EU after a vote for independence and for the vote to be clear and legally binding.
READ MORE: Keir Starmer rejects Boris Johnson’s claim about second independence referendum
Lawson went onto say that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not accept the mandate of the SNP’s majority in the Scottish Parliament, due to his position of leader of the Conservative and Unionist party, writing: “Denying a second independence referendum will stir up problems and make eventual independence more likely, just not under Johnson’s premiership. Sure, there could be civil disobedience, sanctioned or not by the SNP – but London can sit that out. Just as they do in Barcelona and Belarus.”
Another route to a referendum is via a Labour-led government in Westminster at the next General Election. The party are unlikely to win a clear majority in the House of Commons – partly due to the SNP’s continuing political popularity so Lawson says they need a “plan B”.
If Labour are looking to prevent a record fifth straight election loss, then going into some for of coalition with the SNP will likely be the only route to governance.
Lawson continued: “In return, the SNP will want a second legal independence referendum. By then, on purely democratic grounds, it will be impossible to deny them their wish. Being blatantly anti-democratic is not a good look. In any case, the Tories will be throwing election mud at Labour, saying: vote Labour, get Sturgeon. Rather than having to unconvincingly rebuff these lines in the heat of an election campaign, that conversation should be had now. However painful it is, Labour should use this moment to confront the sincere demand for independence and shoot the Tories’ fox.”
He goes onto say that another indyref should “not be a vote on principle but on detail” and a third “full self-government within the Union” could be a viable third option.
LETTERS: The Labour party lost its soul when it was captured by selfish careerists
Lawson added: “This is a difficult dance for Labour. But the party doesn’t really have a choice, squeezed as it is between the SNP/Yes and Tory/No vote. Agreeing to a second vote on these terms could be the only way out of the party’s dilemma, in part because it is also the best strategic opportunity for the SNP. And because it poses an equal risk to them. The risk is that a Labour-led government that is enacting a Green New Deal, investing in public services and offering real home rule could see a referendum win for such a third-way position.”
“What Labour cannot do is turn its face on the obvious and real demand for Scotland to determine its own fate by simply kicking the can down the road with talk of a weak “constitutional commission” that seems to have ruled out a second referendum already. In deciding to open up to the SNP, the Labour party should accept that most Scots who are committed to independence are so for good reasons underwritten by principles of social justice. In his own interests, Starmer should be fully prepared to negotiate the terms of a second referendum with Nicola Sturgeon now.”
Monica Lennon, a candidate for leader of the Scottish Labour party, has expressed support for another vote, saying they should be a “party of the future, not a party of the past”.
Although the Central Scotland MSP remains anti-independence, she is in favour of another independence referendum.
READ MORE: What Scottish Labour’s leadership candidates have said about independence
Speaking to the Daily Record in the aftermath of the 2019 General Election, she said: “People in Scotland have voted in very large numbers for the SNP, including many Labour voter.
“As expected, Nicola Sturgeon is presenting that as an endorsement of her party and will now ask the UK Government to permit a second referendum on independence.
“If Boris Johnson isn’t prepared to grant this request, he should allow the Scottish Parliament to decide.”
Lennon is competing with Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar for Scottish Labour’s top job.