A former Labour first minister has said Scottish Labour should drop its “blanket opposition” to a second Scottish independence referendum, saying “it will happen sometime”.
Henry McLeish, who held the position between 2000 and 2001, said the party should ensure other options are part of any future debate on independence.
He told the Sunday Mail: “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.
“This has been a problem for Labour, especially in the absence of a well thought-out alternative.”
He added: “Labour should drop its blanket opposition to another referendum. It will happen sometime.
“The party must focus on other questions to be asked of the electorate and to ensure that other alternatives, not just independence, are part of any future debate and public vote.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar opposes a second referendum on Scottish independence.
He is standing against First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for the Glasgow Southside seat at the Holyrood election on May 6.
The SNP leader won the constituency with a majority of almost 10,000 in 2016.
SNP depute Leader Keith Brown said: “Anas Sarwar should listen to Henry McLeish, and offer the Labour Party’s support for a post-pandemic independence referendum – instead of backing Boris Johnson’s doomed attempts to deny democracy.
“The Labour Party ruined its reputation in Scotland by siding with the Tories on austerity cuts, and in the Better Together campaign which Anas Sarwar ran for Labour, and now by backing Brexit.
“Instead of working hand-in-hand with Boris Johnson, yet again, they must finally accept people in Scotland have a right to determine their own future.”
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