TRADE union leaders have refused to back either side in the independence debate and criticised both campaigns over their approach so far.
A report by the STUC today warns that it will be wrong to come down one side or the other for the “foreseeable future”, amid concerns over current Labour policies and figures used by the Better Together pro-Union campaign.
The report, prepared by STUC official Dave Moxham, says there was “concern and, on occasion, outright anger at some of the economic, social and international policies which have been pursued at Scottish and UK levels” by Labour.
It adds: “Not being the Tories and negative messages about the SNP will not suffice, and members will require a clear steer on how economic and social justice will be achieved at all levels of government and to be convinced that the Scottish Labour Party intends to play an active and radical role in achieving this.”
The unions would have been widely expected to back the pro-Union position. But a vocal pro-independence lobby has emerged.
Labour leader Johann Lamont has ordered a review of Scotland’s free universal benefits, such as prescription charges and no university fees.
But the STUC paper, entitled A Just Scotland, adds: “For many, the current public spending cuts being driven by Westminster put such services in potential jeopardy and make a strong case for independence.”
STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said the report laid out challenges for both sides of the debate.
“In particular, it criticises the use of misleading figures in the debate over Scotland’s fiscal position. The report identifies deep problems with the economic and fiscal model imagined by the leading voices in the Yes Campaign.
“However, it also calls on the Better Together parties to outline a practical vision of how social and economic justice can achieved within the Union and calls for detailed attention to be paid to proposals for enhanced devolution.”
The STUC will now undertake further discussions.