Scottish Labour leader says UK has ‘major flaws’ but that he wants to see ‘reform’
The leader of Scottish Labour has said that the UK has “major flaws” but that he would like to see “reform” under a Labour UK government rather than independence.
Anas Sarwar was responding to calls by Stephen Noon, the chief strategist of the Yes campaign in 2014, who had called for the SNP to compromise and call for a reformed UK with significant new powers for Scotland.
The suggestion mirrors that of Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford who has called for the continuation of the UK as a “voluntary association of nations” with significantly more powers for the Welsh Parliament, including the devolution of justice and policing.
Speaking to the BBC, Anas Sarwar said: “I also believe that the United Kingdom has major flaws and needs to change, and I want to see a strengthened Scotland with any modernising and reforming UK.”
He added that Scotland should remain part of the Union but that he had “always been about building consensus” and would work with anyone across the political spectrum to achieve that.
Last week Stephen Noon, who was senior policy adviser to former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond before masterminding the Yes Scotland campaign, said “there is a different path” to independence.
“I want Scotland to have the form of government that it wishes, and that may not be independence,” he told the Times.
“I will argue with my heart and soul for independence, but I recognise that that may not be the point we get to in the immediate future.
“I may want to get 100 per cent of what I want, but that’s not life. In life you sometimes get 90 per cent of what you want and that’s good enough.
“And so for the independence movement, if we can get 90 per cent of what we want, and in a way which gives the No side also a good chunk of what they want, is that not worth exploring?”
‘Capacity for reform’
Last year, Mark Drakeford launched the Welsh Government’s own blueprint for reforming the union, saying that the belief that the present system works well was “misguided”.
“But it is possible to renew and revitalise our union in ways that will allow it to thrive and prosper for the long-term, not in spite of devolution but because of it,” he said.
“This requires thought, imagination and co-operation, and above all an acceptance that the status quo cannot and will not continue. The case for the break-up of the UK is made vigorously across the nations, including here in Wales. Those who believe in the benefits of union cannot take it for granted.
“The case for union has to be made positively, based on a capacity for reform and a sense of the future rather than a retreat into the past or a misguided belief that the existing system works well.”
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been commissioned by Labour to publish a report on recommendations for reform of the UK.
The current consistent poll lead for Labour over the Conservatives has made the likelihood that such a plan could be implemented more likely than it has seemed in the past.
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