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SNP majority in Scotland isn’t inevitable insists Sarwar

Henry McLeish, Scotland’s second First Minister has admitted Labour would not be able to block a second independence referendum after 20 polls showed increasing support for the concept. He stressed a third option should be included on any ballot paper for a second vote which would consist of greater devolution, dubbed ‘“devo max” by Labour bigwigs.

Mr McLeish, a Labour politician for more than 50 years also issued a warning to Scottish Labour leadership hopefuls Anas Sarwar and Monica Lennon saying the image of Scottish Labour must change.

Both Ms Lennon and Mr Sarwar garnered at least four nominations from MSPs for Labour’s sole MP north of the border Ian Murray to progress to the ballot to replace Richard Leonard.

Speaking today, he said: “Scotland is not just another region of the UK, it is one of the four nations and the party has to pay more respect to the idea of Scottishness.

“The issue that comes from that is we have no alternative to independence.

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“We talk glibly about federalism but there’s no enthusiastic embrace of an alternative to independence.

“Without having an alternative, independence will just gain and gain and gain.

“Instead of being negative about a referendum, Labour should argue for one at the appropriate time, which may be in two or three years, but it is not just about independence. It is about alternatives.”

Scottish Labour has come under increasing pressure in opinion polls as the latest polling from Panelbase revealed Labour were down five points on 19 percent for the 2020 Holyrood elections.

Both new leadership hopefuls have also refused to rule out a second independence referendum

Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, said: “I don’t believe in Scottish independence but I do understand people maybe have frustrations, things are not settled, and I’m not in politics to tell people what they can’t have. I’ll always respect democracy.

“We have to find out why this is such a polarising issue in Scotland, we can’t just wish it away.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sarwar, a steadfast opponent of Scottish independence and the party’s constitution spokesman said the next parliamentary term should be used to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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He said: “I do not support an independence referendum in the next parliament. I support the next parliament being a Covid recovery parliament.”

Mr McLeish added of Labour’s chances in 2020 in Scotland: “We need to approach this election with humility and apologise because we have failed.

“But we have got to get ourselves in a position where the fightback starts when the election is held and take the Scottish people honestly on board and start to talk in ways which they can reconnect with.”

However, John Swinney, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister said independence was an essential part of Coronavirus recovery.

Speaking on BBC Politics Scotland, he said: “Independence is the preferred option for the people of Scotland.”

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