Scotish independence: ‘Labour backers and union members could vote Yes if SNP promises left-wing agenda’

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LABOUR supporters and union members would consider backing independence if there is no reform to devolution and the SNP proposes a firmly left-wing agenda, according to a prominent party figure.

Dave Watson, a member of Labour Party’s Scottish executive committee, and an organiser of public-sector union Unison, said that independence or extended devolution should be “considered” by the left in the run up to the 2014 referendum.

While he would not be backing independence on the “current prospectus”, he said that a socialist vision of an independent Scotland would attract both him and plenty of other natural Labour supporters over the coming two years.

The SNP’s current plan is to allow much economic policy to remain in London, with the Bank of England supervising a Sterling Zone across the British Isles. It has also backed a major cut in corporation tax to attract businesses to Scotland.

Mr Watson, a former chair of the Scottish Labour Party, said he and others could be persuaded if the SNP changed track. He said: “Let’s say they come up with a credible left-of-centre policy, and Labour just declared they were for the status quo and did nothing for devolution and then, into the mix, the Tories appeared to be here to stay – then a lot of members, and me included, could come within that category and that would make the referendum a lot more interesting. I wouldn’t be backing independence on their current prospectus but they have got plenty of time over the coming two years.”

He said that all the big unions in Scotland were also biding their time, to see whether or not the SNP side produced a more left-wing prospectus. Current proposals, Mr Watson said would not be attractive. “If the key economic levers are controlled by another country, then there is less influence on monetary, and fiscal, policy than under devolution,” he wrote in an article in Scottish Left Review.

Mr Watson was speaking out after a new movement calling itself “Labour for Independence” launched on Monday night with the aim of trying to persuade natural Labour voters to support a separate Scotland.

Founder Alan Grogan said Labour needed to make a “confession” over their party’s record in Scotland and then gain “absolution” by backing independence.

“I am sorry that I stood by and watched these people take away the real Labour values of my party. I am sorry for letting my party take the people of Scotland for granted, and I am sorry that we ever let those who have done this to our once great party come to power,” he said.