Labour’s manifesto counts for very little because voters do not see the party as credible, according to former Labour first minister Henry McLeish.
The former Scottish Labour leader also called on Kezia Dugdale to soften her opposition to a second independence referendum.
Mr McLeish, who led the country in 2000-01, said the UK party’s manifesto had its merits but is undermined by the party’s reputation.
“All the innovative policies in a manifesto count for very little if the
public viewing them do not think the Labour Party is credible,” he said.
Referring to concern over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership skills, Mr McLeish added: “For UK Labour, in an increasingly presidential style of politics, to what extent is credibility wrapped up in the leadership of the Labour Party?”
Mr McLeish said that Labour must accept that a second independence referendum is inevitable, adding the party’s resistance gives the perception they are in league with the Tories.
The ex-Fife MP’s intervention comes in a week in which Ms Dugdale, the
Scottish Labour leader, convinced Mr Corbyn to take a tough approach against Indyref2 in the Labour manifesto.
Mr Corbyn’s election prospectus, which was published on Tuesday,
promised that Labour would “campaign tirelessly” against an “unwanted
and unnecessary” referendum on
independence, which the party warned would lead to “turbo-charged austerity”.
Mr McLeish said: “The party must re-engage with the constitutional question by easing its opposition to a second referendum.
“It is going to happen sometime, although certainly not any time soon.
“Trying to avoid it identifies the party with the Tories and will not defeat independence or make it go away.
“Instead the party could hold out the prospect of an alternative way forward – a federated structure for the UK.”
Ms Dugdale has advocated federalism as a possible solution to Scotland’s
The Labour manifesto has pledged
to set up a constitutional convention, which would consider creating a more federalised country.
A Scottish Labour source said: “Henry McLeish is entitled to his personal views.
“But he is out of touch with the Labour Party in 2017, and out of touch with the majority of people in Scotland.
“Those who claim to share Labour values should never give up on fighting for social justice.
“That’s why opposition to a referendum that could result in so much
hardship for the very poorest families in Scotland is at the heart of our modern movement for the many, not the few.
“A vote for Labour on June 8 will tell Nicola Sturgeon to get back to the day job and drop her plans for a divisive second independence referendum.”
See Saturday’s paper edition of The Courier to read Mr McLeish’s column in full.