The SNP have welcomed a call from Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader for his party to ditch their unionist stance.
In an interview in the Sunday Herald, Alex Rowley said that he had never considered himself a unionist, and admitted that the “status quo” of a Union dominated by Westminster and Whitehall could not deliver the radical social and economic change that he said left-of-centre Scots want to see.
In a clear break from Leader Kezia Dugdale, he said “Of course we cannot duck the constitutional question, we must set out a clear vision for Scotland in the 21st century.”
The comments follow similar signs of discomfort with a hard-line unionist position in the rank and file of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. A motion to consider independence as a possible option to protect Scotland’s place in Europe was debated, but defeated – and strongly opposed by Willie Rennie.
Commenting, West Dunbartonshire’s SNP MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes, said:
“I welcome these remarks from Alex Rowley which simply reflect the reality of the situation in which Scotland finds itself.
“The people of Scotland voted by an overwhelming 62% to 38% to remain in the EU, yet we are being dragged to the exit door by the hard-right of the Tories at Westminster.
“Brexit is by far and away the biggest threat to Scotland’s jobs, economy and long-term prosperity. And it’s not some theoretical threat to a larger picture that we’re talking about, local businesses in West Dunbartonshire and other local communities will suffer, and it’s absolutely right that we consider all possible options to protect ourselves from that.
The SNP’s Europe spokesperson, Stephen Gethins, added:
“There is clear discomfort in the rank and file-of-both Labour and the Lib Dems about maintaining a hard-line unionist position. Both Scottish Labour and the Scottish Lib Dems have suffered electoral annihilation over the last few years – yet their leaders seem unable or unwilling to recognise why that has happened.
“So long as Labour and the Lib Dems continue to give the Tories carte blanche to do whatever they want to Scotland, their parties will be rejected at the ballot box.
“Meanwhile, the SNP will continue to stand up for Scotland’s interests, by doing everything we can to protect our place in the EU.”
Notes for Editors:
The Sunday Herald story can be found at http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14884355.Scottish_Labour_plunged_into_civil_war_over___39_Unionist_ideology__39_/