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by Andrew Learmonth
21 April 2021
Delegates at STUC Congress back motion calling for indyref2 after COVID recovery

Delegates at STUC Congress back motion calling for indyref2 after COVID recovery

Delegates at the STUC congress have backed a motion calling for a second vote on independence.

Members at the trade unionist conference said Holyrood “should have the power to hold a referendum on Scotland’s future and should not require UK Government consent.”

The congress also said it would be wrong for Westminster to “resist a second vote if a majority of pro-independence MSPs are elected alongside a clear preference among the Scottish people for a second vote.”

The vote could be uncomfortable for Scottish Labour which has close ties to the 50 unions who make up the STUC. 

Anas Sarwar, who leads the party, has repeatedly stressed that he is “unequivocal in terms of my position on not supporting a referendum on independence”.

Delgates at the STUC also rejected the so-called “supermajority” for independence being pursued by Alex Salmond’s Alba. 

The former first minister believes this can be achieved by Yes supporters giving the SNP their constituency vote, and his list only party their regional vote.

Alba would then in the first week of the next parliament mandate the next Scottish Government to start immediate independence negotiations with London.

STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said: “Our vote today has re-affirmed the right of the Scottish people to self-determination and recognised that as the central democratic institution in Scotland, our parliament should have the power to determine whether and when to hold a second referendum.

“We have also made clear that any future referendum need not be confined to a binary choice if a meaningful third option is developed.

“But we have also asserted that economic and social recovery is our priority, and that radical policy is needed to achieve that in a way that redresses current imbalances of power and wealth. We will hold to account all parties of all political colours who take their eye off that ball.

“As a movement of over half a million people we naturally have divergent views on the outcome of any future referendum.  We have resolved today to actively consult with our members and to play a leading role within Scottish civil society in this crucial debate.”

SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown welcomed the motion. He said: “This is a significant and important intervention from the STUC, which proves that both Labour and the Tories’ arrogant attempts to deny democracy will not stand. 

"There is simply no democratic, electoral or moral justification for any politician to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose a better future.

“A post-pandemic referendum will give people in Scotland the right to decide the kind of country we should be after the current crisis, protect our NHS from the threat of post-Brexit Tory trade deals, and halt the Tories' undermining of devolution through the damaging Internal Market Act.

"Scotland's right to choose its own future is a decision that lies solely with the people of Scotland - not out-of-touch Westminster governments that we don’t vote for."


Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said the motion raised questions for the Scottish Labour leadership.

He said:“The position outlined by Scotland’s trade union movement recognises the fundamental right of self-determination.


“The STUC rightly says that Scotland’s future is a matter for the people of Scotland, and if they choose to elect a parliament with a pro-independence majority then it should be for that parliament to hold a referendum.

“I’m sure many traditional Labour voters will find it incomprehensible that the Scottish Labour Party's position is at odds with this perfectly reasonable statement of democratic principles."


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