Labour and trade union figures who back an independence referendum
Former Labour First Ministers in Scotland and Wales, trade union bosses, and even the former leader of the UK Labour Party.
More and more Labour figures and trade unions are acknowledging Scotland’s democratic right to choose its future and backed a second independence referendum.
Meanwhile, Keir Starmer’s and Anas Sarwar’s insistence on standing against Scottish democracy makes the Labour leadership look out of step not just with Scotland, but also with many of key people within Labour.
Henry McLeish, former Labour FM of Scotland
In September 2021, Henry McLeish, one of the fathers of devolution and former Labour First Minister, said that he would now support Scottish independence.
During the 2021 election campaign, which resulted in an increased pro-independence majority, McLeish urged Anas Sarwar to back a second referendum.
He said: “Merely saying no to a second independence referendum has never been a vote winner. It sounds negative, is interpreted as a denial of democracy and smacks of political panic.”
📢 Former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish: “Yes, I would support independence.”
🏴 Scotland only has to look to the successes of other small independent nations to see the immense opportunities that come with independence.
🗳 Sign the yes pledge at: https://t.co/bkLETL68v1 pic.twitter.com/xqQZrq2imH
— Yes (@YesScot) September 24, 2021
Jeremy Corbyn, former UK Labour leader
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in October 2021, told BBC Radio Scotland that “the pressure is there” for an independence referendum, stating that indyref “will happen” in the next few years.
He added: “I don’t believe that it’s a good idea to prevent people expressing a point of view and an opinion“, as Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer continue denying Scotland’s right to choose.
📣 Jeremy Corbyn said “the pressure is there” for an independence referendum.
🥀 The Labour leadership of both Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer are becoming more isolated in opposing a referendum as time goes on.
🏴 Scotland will have a choice. https://t.co/bkLETLnJTB pic.twitter.com/bAS36DsDhT
— Yes (@YesScot) October 29, 2021
Mark Drakeford, Labour FM of Wales
Mark Drakeford, Welsh Labour leader and current First Minister of Wales, said that no Labour leader should stand in the way of indyref2.
In the 2021 election, pro-independence parties got a record number of votes, record share of the vote and an increased majority – resulting in a clear mandate for a referendum after the pandemic is over.
👏 Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford: “If the Scottish people want a referendum, it’s for them to decide.”
🗳 The Welsh Labour leader accepts the people of Scotland have the right to decide our own future. Why won’t @scottishlabour?
✍️ Pledge at https://t.co/1TBOd5pYT1 pic.twitter.com/H3rpEIjznA
— Yes (@YesScot) October 24, 2019
Carwyn Jones, former Labour FM of Wales
Carwyn Jones has hit out at the UK government’s continued refusal to accept Scotland’s democratic mandate to hold a second independence referendum.
The former Welsh Labour leader and First Minister of Wales said: “If Boris Johnson says that it is entirely a matter for the UK if it chooses to leave the EU, then it’s entirely matter for Scotland if it chooses to leave the UK. As Brussels didn’t prevent the Brexit referendum so Westminster shouldn’t stop this one.”
📣 Carwyn Jones AM, former First Minister of Wales and former leader of the Welsh Labour Party, says Scotland must have a choice.
✍️ Pledge your support: https://t.co/1TBOd5HzKz pic.twitter.com/c89CysusAh
— Yes (@YesScot) January 14, 2020
Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former Chief of Staff
Jonathan Powell, who served for a decade as Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff, has said it would be “impossible” for the UK to keep Scotland in the Union if a majority wants to leave.
Powell was also one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement.
He claimed the UK government’s and the Labour Party’s anti-democratic position on indyref2 cannot be sustained because democracy must be based on consent.
🔍 Jonathan Powell says it’s “impossible” for Tories to keep Scotland in the UK if a majority support independence.
📣 “People can’t be governed against their will.”
🌹 He was Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff, 1997-2007, and Britain’s Chief Negotiator for the Belfast Agreement. pic.twitter.com/WuvRt7gCQt
— Yes (@YesScot) October 14, 2021
Duncan McLennan, former special advisor to three Labour First Ministers of Scotland
Duncan McLennan, who was the right-hand man of Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell, has written in the Sunday Times that Scotland cannot properly tackle poverty as part of the UK.
McLennan, who’s now an academic at Glasgow University, argued for independence as the best way to ensure Scotland can “thrive in the future”.
Scotland needs independence to thrive in the future, says Glasgow University’s Duncan Maclennanhttps://t.co/q2VaDpuSVL
— David Leask (@LeaskyHT) November 29, 2020
Several Labour MSPs
Katy Clark, a Scottish Labour MSP from the 2021 intake, said that a second independence referendum should be held if the Parliament votes for it.
Monica Lennon, a senior Labour MSP and former leadership candidate, said during the leadership contest that Labour must accept indyref2 if pro-independence parties win a majority – which has increased after the May 2021 election.
Former MSP Neil Findlay also said that Labour should “positively support” indyref2 if there is a majority in the Scottish Parliament.
And a Labour candidate for the 2021 elections, Hollie Cameron, was removed by Anas Sarwar for simply stating that Scotland should have the right to choose its own future.
🥀 CONFIRMED: Scottish Labour are against Scotland having a choice over its future and have removed a candidate that backs it.
🚨 Voting Scottish Labour helps Tories deny Scotland’s right to decide.
🗳 Only #BothVotesSNP on May 6 will put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. pic.twitter.com/aDCXb7lqVS
— The SNP (@theSNP) March 9, 2021
Sharon Graham, General Secretary of Unite
Sharon Graham, the recently elected General Secretary of Unite the Union – the UK’s second biggest trade union and a key Labour backer – said it was “ridiculous” for Westminster to stand in the way of a second independence referendum.
She stated Scotland’s future must be Scotland’s choice, saying: “For me, self-determination of Scotland is absolutely critical and I support it.”
✊🏼 Sharon Graham, the new General Secretary of @unitetheunion, backs Scotland’s right to choose.
📣 “For me, self-determination of Scotland is absolutely critical and I support it.”
🏴 Let’s put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, not Boris Johnson’s. https://t.co/bkLETLnJTB pic.twitter.com/vg3GsveOKe
— Yes (@YesScot) August 26, 2021
Len McCluskey, former boss of Unite the Union
Len McCluskey, the former long-serving boss of Unite, recently said “Labour must wake up and smell the coffee” over its anti-indyref stance.
In further evidence of just how out of touch Labour has become, McCluskey clearly stated that Scottish Labour “should support” an independence referendum.
📻 Len McCluskey, former boss of Unite, said Labour must “wake up and smell the coffee” over its anti-democratic opposition to #indyref2.
🌹 In May, Labour suffered its worst defeat since devolution.
🏴 Scotland’s future must be Scotland’s choice. https://t.co/bkLETLnJTB pic.twitter.com/QXkd3YhF33
— Yes (@YesScot) October 26, 2021
Roz Foyer, General Secretary of the STUC
Roz Foyer clearly said that the power to hold a second independence referendum should reside in the Scottish Parliament, not Westminster.
📣 Scotland’s trade unions say that Scotland’s future must be Scotland’s choice – not Boris Johnson’s or Westminster’s.
🌹 It’s time that Labour accepts the democratic mandate for #indyref2.
✍️ Join the movement and show your support at https://t.co/fkiOEPFSzq pic.twitter.com/9udzq0a2ST
— Yes (@YesScot) May 13, 2021
This came weeks after delegates at the STUC Congress have backed a motion calling for indyref2, which also stated that Holyrood “should have the power to hold a referendum on Scotland’s future and should not require UK Government consent.”
The STUC is made up of 50 trade unions, most of which have close links to Scottish Labour.
Earlier this year, Scotland’s trade unions backed a post-pandemic #indyref2 – which the people of Scotland just voted for.
Roz Foyer, STUC General Secretary, says there is a mandate for #indyref2.
It’s time the Tories and Labour accept democracy. #bbcdnhttps://t.co/caF2zmj8yV
— The SNP (@theSNP) May 12, 2021
Paul Mason, journalist, author and Labour member
Following the May 2021 election which returned an increased pro-independence majority, Paul Mason said on BBC Question Time that Labour should accept “the very exciting prospect” of a second independence referendum.
He stated there is a mandate for indyref2, and sent a stark message to the Labour leadership, saying: “To the people who are intensely interested in whether the Scots can go independent or not – it’s not your business. Under international law nations have the right to self-determination.”
📣 @paulmasonnews calls out Westminster’s attempts to deny Scottish democracy:
👏 “It’s not your business. Under international law, nations have the right to self-determination.”
🏴 Scotland’s future is Scotland’s choice – not Boris Johnson’s, Keir Starmer’s or anyone else’s. pic.twitter.com/IH4Fb5cJYa
— Yes (@YesScot) May 14, 2021
In fact, even Anas Sarwar once said this…
In 2016, Sarwar said: “Mandates come from the electorate in an election… it should be the people of Scotland that decide when the next referendum is.”
👇 @AnasSarwar said this in 2016, he was right then and he’s right now. The people of Scotland have made their decision.
“Mandates comes from the electorate in an election… it should be the people of Scotland that decide when the next referendum is.” #SP21 pic.twitter.com/FiJDSOeeeD
— Yes (@YesScot) May 8, 2021
He’s since reverted back to an anti-democratic position
Anas Sarwar, after becoming Scottish Labour leader, has changed his mind and shifted towards a fundamentally anti-democratic stance.
Polls found at least a third of 2019 Labour voters back independence, and a majority back indyref2 – but Starmer and Sarwar are completely out of touch with their own voters and key people in their own party.