Labour ‘can be home for nationalists’ insists Dugdale

Kezia Dugdale has said that there is a home for Nationalists in Labour. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Kezia Dugdale has said that there is a home for Nationalists in Labour. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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SCOTTISH Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said her members’ views on Scottish independence are “irrelevant” to her efforts to create a fairer and more equal society.

Ms Dugdale said there is a home for nationalists in the Labour Party, despite previously arguing that Scotland would be billions of pounds worse off under independence with implications for inequality.

Thousands turned out for the Hope over Fear rally in Glasgow last weekend. Picture: John Devlin

Thousands turned out for the Hope over Fear rally in Glasgow last weekend. Picture: John Devlin

She has said she will not shut down internal party debate on support for independence, after former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont called for a free vote within the party.

Speaking during a visit to Barnardo’s Cymru in Cardiff, she said: “I spent two-and-a-half years campaigning for a No vote and I’m glad the country voted No.

“But what I am calling for now is that instead of talking about the issues of the past we focus on the future, such as tackling education.

“There’s no denying that 30 per cent of Labour voters voted Yes in the referendum.

There’s no denying that 30 per cent of Labour voters voted Yes... I want to lead a party that is comfortable with people who voted Yes and No

Kezia Dugdale

“So, I want to lead a Labour Party that is comfortable with people who voted Yes and No backing our values of creating a fair and more equal society for everyone.

“Where you sit with the constitutional question is irrelevant.

“What matters is whether you believe in tackling things like child poverty - then there’s a home for you in the Labour Party.”

Ms Dugdale rebuffed suggestions that it could be confusing for voters with her party in Scotland having different views than their counterparts in England.

“You can call it confusing, I call it devolution,” she added.

“Across the UK we can have different solutions to different questions. First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones has done that several times for Wales - and put Wales first.

“I’m saying as the leader of the Scottish Labour Party I’m going to do exactly that - so what is in the best interests of Scotland.”

Speaking in Holyrood shortly before the independence referendum, Ms Dugdale said: “Scotland would be £4.5 billion worse off under independence, having to find more than £4 billion just to stand still... but it is standing still on the big issues such as educational inequality.”