Home rule

‘House rules’ should factor into indyref2 debate, says Labor MSP

Scottish Labor MP Alex Rowley has called for ‘home rule’ to be considered as part of the ongoing debate around a second independence referendum.

Rowley, who represents Central Scotland and Fife, said ‘all options’ should be on the table amid the ongoing debate around a second independence referendum, including devo max alongside yes and no options. Speaking to the Herald on Sunday, he claimed Scotland was currently in a ‘constitutional impasse’.

“It translates into bad government, rewards political parties for maintaining divisions, and so we have to find a way forward and fix it,” he said.

Rowley claimed that the division and healing of the nation cannot be solved by “telling 50% of the population that they are wrong”. “The way forward must be an open, civil debate that looks at the issues and has all the options on the table,” he said.

“My own view is that the option of autonomy should be seen as part of the debate but, regardless, the significant and material change since 2014 means that the same binary choice is no longer on Table.”

However, SNP MSP Rona MacKay hit back, saying ‘no one can be trusted’ Scottish Labor to keep their word.

MacKay said: “Scottish Labor made the same vow to Scotland in 2014 and then broke that promise. No one can trust them to keep their word this time. And no amount of constitutional tinkering would protect Scotland from Brexit disaster or the Tory-created cost-of-living crisis.

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“The only way for Scotland to escape the corrosive control of Westminster is with the full powers of independence. However, Alex Rowley clearly recognizes Scotland’s right to choose its own future in a referendum, he should therefore demand that his boss, Anas Sarwar, abandon his Donald Trump policy of denying clear democratic election results delivered by the people of this country.

Party leader Anas Sarwar has always ruled out supporting a second referendum. Asked on the Sunday Show if he thought an independence referendum should be ‘categorically’ ruled out in the next 10 years, he said: ‘We said from the start of the election campaign that we think Parliament should focus on our recovery and that is why we did not support a referendum.

“On the principle that Scots have a right to choose, I of course believe that Scots have a right to choose. But fundamentally, during the mandate, we should focus on recovery.

Sarwar also said he will “in a few weeks” present his vision of alternatives to a second independence referendum, saying Labor wants to demonstrate that “the next electoral context will be a general election”.

“[We want to show] what it means to vote for Labor in this general election and what change looks like across the UK, what change looks like for people in Scotland,” said Sarwar.

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“Yes the Tories are a disaster, yes I want to kick them out, yes I disagree with the priorities of the SNP – I think it’s bad government here in Scotland – but we can’t wait for the public to want them to lose. We have to serve them.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, along with Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, kicked off the indyref2 campaign last week by launching a series of new materials making the case for an independent Scotland.

Sturgeon has insisted a referendum will take place with or without an Article 30 order, while Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has vowed to boycott any “wildcat” ballot.

A recent Scottish election survey found that 55% of voters saw the results of the last election as a mandate for indyref2, based on a neutral question.

Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera