The Labour Party has descended into fresh turmoil after John McDonnell’s highly contentious comments last night saying that Labour “would not block” IndyRef2. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP naturally jumped all over it and are now gleefully trying to widen the rift between Scottish and UK Labour.
Unsurprisingly Scottish Labour themselves have erupted at the news which threatens to rip out their electoral base yet further. To be fair, they could have seen it coming given Corbyn himself said he was “absolutely fine” with another go at Scottish independence two years ago…
Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard held what will have been a fairly robust meeting with the Shadow Chancellor this morning, issuing a statement:
I made clear to him that a second independence referendum is unwanted by the people of Scotland and it is unnecessary… The 2014 referendum was a once in a generation vote.
Scottish MPs and MSPs have since piled in. Ian Murray MP led a blistering attack on McDonnell, saying:
“These are utterly irresponsible comments from John McDonnell that betray our party’s values… McDonnell has even bought into the nationalist narrative that Westminster is an ‘English Parliament’, in an insult to the hard work carried out by Scottish MPs from every party.
We were promised by the SNP that the 2014 referendum was once-in-a-generation, and we have a duty to hold the Nationalists to their promise by firmly opposing a divisive second independence referendum.
But one of the architects of the Corbyn project that is destroying the Labour Party now appears willing to destroy our United Kingdom with thoughtless rants at the Festival”.
Murray retweeted fellow MP Stella Creasy who blasted:
Nationalism is antithesis of socialism – to prioritise passports over principles isn’t progressive. Egalitarian devolution isn’t about separation but how by working together as nations within the UK each stronger and more successful. Labour abandons such commitment at our peril.
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) August 7, 2019
Shadow Scotland Minister Paul Sweeney MP has also been on the attack, while Labour’s Scottish Parliamentary candidates have put out a joint statement. Never underestimate Labour’s ability to turn a crisis into a catastrophe…
UPDATE: Rather than apologising for undermining Labour policy, McDonnell has doubled down, saying the approval of a second Scottish independence referendum is also Jeremy Corbyn’s view. It’s clear Scottish Labour are not going to let this argument die down.
UPDATE 2: Labour’s MSPs have released a joint statement condemning McDonnell’s IndyRef2 u-turn:
The SPLP support the stance taken by Richard Leonard as our Leader and back the policy position that he outlined. We deplore any attempts to undermine the official policy position of the Scottish Labour Party and we express serious concerns about an apparent change in Labour’s position on a matter of vital importance to the future of Scotland and of the Scottish Labour Party itself.
Scottish party policy is very clear – that is opposition to a second independence referendum. There is therefore an urgent need for the UK Party leadership to engage constructively with the Scottish Party leadership on the issue of the party’s stance on the future of Scotland.
We are clear Labour’s position on Scotland’s future is a decision for Scottish Labour, which the UK Party must accept. We expect all Scottish Labour MPs and MSPs to vote in accordance with party policy.
The war rages on…