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SNP use Drakeford’s referendum stance to put pressure on new Scottish Labour leader

21 Apr 2021 4 minute read
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar. Picture by the Scottish Parliament. Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government.

The SNP are using Mark Drakeford’s stance on a Welsh independence referendum to pile pressure on the new Scottish Labour leader to back down from opposing a second independence vote north of Hadrian’s wall.

They have branded new Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s position a “disgrace” and urged him to explain why he seems to disagree with his party’s leader in Wales.

The SNP depute leader Keith Brown said that “Mark Drakeford gets it” and “respects democracy in Wales and is prepared to defend his country’s right to choose”.

Unlike his Scottish counterpart, Mark Drakeford has not ruled out an independence referendum in Wales.

“I have always believed that if a party won an election in Wales with a referendum on independence in its manifesto then it would have won the right to hold such a referendum,” he told Today.

“But if a party puts that proposition and doesn’t win a majority, it could not expect that then to be implemented.”

However, new Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said that he is “unequivocal in terms of my position on not supporting a referendum on independence”

“Our candidates are standing on a manifesto that doesn’t support independence, doesn’t support a referendum and that is the mandate which they will serve in the next parliament,” he said.

“I’m appealing to people across that divide and at the same time being honest about what my own view is.”


However the SNP told the Scottish National newspaper that Anas Sarwar was in effect backing Boris Johnson’s government in refusing the Scottish people a say on full autonomy.

“That is a disgrace and confirms what respected pollster John Curtice has said – that a vote for Labour is simply a vote to allow Boris Johnson and his cronies to continue inflicting damaging policies on Scotland, policies we have consistently rejected,” depute leader Keith Brown said.

“Mark Drakeford gets it. He respects democracy in Wales and is prepared to defend his country’s right to choose. Anas Sarwar clearly does not believe in democracy and he needs to explain why.

“The majority of Labour’s own members think Sarwar’s stance on indyref2 is wrong. His party is in a mess of its own making and their position cannot hold.

“They say the last UK election gave the Tories a mandate for Brexit yet they brazenly claim a pro-independence majority at Holyrood would not be a mandate for indyref2. That’s not just inconsistent – it is downright dishonest.

“That even the STUC has backed the country’s right to hold a second independence referendum shows how out of step Scottish Labour is with its ever-dwindling grassroots support. The democratic wishes of the people of Scotland must be respected.

“By siding with Boris Johnson in attempting to block indyref2, Anas Sarwar is sacrificing the futures of the very people his party should be protecting. That is not just misleading, it is downright shameful.”


Unlike in Scotland, where a candidate backing independence has been deselected by Labour, Welsh Labour have selected three independence supporting candidates in the Mid and West Wales Region.

Cian Ireland has been selected as the Welsh Labour candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Dylan Lewis-Rowlands has been selected in Ceredigion, and Ben Gwalchmai is standing on the Mid and West Wales regional list.

A YouGov poll in September suggested that a majority of those who voted Labour at the 2019 General Election would back Welsh independence if a referendum was held.

With the figures adjusted to remove those who refused to answer, didn’t know or said that they wouldn’t vote, 51% of respondents who voted for Labour said they would vote for Welsh independence with 49% against.

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Charles L. Gallagher
Charles L. Gallagher
3 years ago

Mark Drakeford obviously remembers how the Scottish branch office was slaughtered in elections following their disastrous association with the Tories and the Fib/Dems in the 2014 Indy Referendum thereby allowing the Tories to become the main opposition in Holyrood. There was also a huge exodus of once-loyal real Labour supporters to the SNP. They’ll never learn.

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