A leading north-east Labour politician has come out in support of a second independence referendum.
Alison Evison, a Labour councillor in Aberdeenshire and also the president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), made the announcement via Twitter.
She said: “It’s straightforward to me: democracy must be at the core of all we do. Recently it has become fragile and we must strengthen it again.
“We can strengthen it by enabling the voice of Scotland to be heard through its formal processes and that must mean a referendum on independence.”
Ms Evison’s remarks were widely commented on by members across the political divide, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon making her feelings known via social media.
It’s straight-forward to me: democracy must be at the core of all we do. Recently it has become fragile and we must strengthen it again. We can strengthen it by enabling the voice of Scotland to be heard through its formal processes & that must mean a referendum on independence
— Alison Evison (@AlisonEvison) December 14, 2019
She tweeted: “Not for me to decide its direction, of course, but can’t help thinking that Scottish Labour would do well to listen to principled and sensible voices like Alison Evison.”
Ms Evison, the only Labour councillor on the authority, has worked in opposition with the SNP group for several years now. Her remarks follow those of Shadow Health Secretary Monica Lennon, who said while she was still opposed to independence, she believes the future of Scotland “must be decided by the people of Scotland”.
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Conservative councillor Douglas Lumsden, co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “Alison Evison has been very close to the SNP for a number of years now and it just shows that the only party that want to defend the union are Scottish Conservatives. I don’t know if she speaks for Labour leadership as well or if it’s a position now.”
SNP depute leader Keith Brown said the comments were a “reflection of shifting public opinion” as voters look for an “escape route” from a Tory Brexit. He said: “With Boris Johnson in Number 10 threatening privatisation of our NHS, it’s no surprise more people believe Scotland should have a say on its own future.”
Meanwhile, Ms Evison was due to highlight work to end the abuse of elected officials in Scotland at Westminster today.
She was to explain how safety is being improved north of the border and to tell the Civility in Public Life event how intimidation and abuse is “fundamentally undermining British democracy” but hopes by tackling this “women and other underrepresented groups feel safe to stand” as councillors.
The councillor recently wrote to the Commons Speaker to condemn the use of pejorative and inflammatory language.