A SCOTTISH Labour splinter group fighting for an independent Scotland is back with a major recruitment drive just as Kezia Dugdale reaffirms her commitment to the Union.
Labour for Independence (LFI), which had thousands of members before the last referendum, has already rallied scores of new recruits who are still Labour party members with Brexit being the catalyst for its re-emergence.
The group now has the support of Scotland’s Yes2 campaign as it launches a fresh drive to persuade more disillusioned Labour voters to support an independent Scotland.
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LFI organiser Scott Abel said: “The group is re-emerging and already has a good core membership of supporters who are all Labour members. We are a much smaller group than we were but since Brexit we are increasing our membership again with actual Labour Party members who have had enough. Our support is growing and with the help of Yes2 we are confident it will continue to grow.
“We have had people contact us from across the UK, not just to join, but to offer their support and saying to us ‘maybe this is your time to go forward with this and be more progressive and we don’t blame you for wanting to get out now’. There were 500,000 Labour voters in 2016 and I see them almost as a soft vote and people who could be persuaded when it comes to the constitutional question.
“I would say close to half that continue to vote Labour for various reasons could be persuaded on the constitution.”
He said that after the disappointment of the 2014 referendum, the group “disbanded a bit” and members joined other parties like the Greens, SNP and SSP but many have come back and since Brexit the membership had grown.
The group still has the backing and support of founder Allan Grogan who quit as LFI’s co-convenor and as a member of the Labour party in October 2014 to join the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). He has since left the SSP and has been banned from rejoining Labour.
In 2013, LFI severed ties with the Yes Scotland campaigners claiming they didn’t get enough support from them when a Unionist journalist wrote an article claiming the group was a sham and nothing more than an SNP front designed to embarrass its British Unionist opponents in the Labour Party. He then identified SNP members in a photo standing in front of a Labour for Independence banner. However, both groups are now “excited” about working together again.
Yes2 founder John McHarg said: “Yes 2 has now embraced Labour for Independence into our administrative operation which means they are now on our page as admin and pushing their agenda on Yes2 and Labour for Independence. We have done this because we see Labour for Independence as a major contact source for Labour voters and as you are well aware there are so many of them out there now they just don’t know where to go.
“There are 500,000 Labour voters and we reckon that close to 50 per cent of them are utterly disillusioned with the Labour Party and its approach to the independence issue. What Labour has done in regards to supporting the Tories is despicable. There is an option for Labour supporters to maintain being Labour members but say ‘no, we now want these guys to give us options as far as independence is concerned’. Labour for Independence gives people a platform to say ‘I’m still a Labour person but I support independence’.”
Abel said LFI was “very pleased” to have the backing of Yes2 as the group tries to boost its membership.
He said: “We are all very pleased to be working together again.
“A lot of SNP people don’t understand why we can still be Labour party members doing what we are doing.
“I always go back to the amount of people who vote Labour in Scotland, they obviously don’t vote SNP because they are not convinced by the constitutional part of their argument, so somebody else needs to give them that and that’s why we are here.
“We are excited to be part of Yes2 and get this moving again.”