SCOTLAND’S most senior trade union leader has called for the country’s Labour movement to back a second independence referendum.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith, writing in the forthcoming issue of the Scottish Left Review, said Richard Leonard’s party has “much to gain” by considering an independent future.

Smith, who is set to retire in spring, said Labour’s proposals for a devolved Scottish Parliament in the 1980s and 1990s had been “compelling”, but were “not now”.

He added that the Vow “cooked up by Gordon Brown” at the climax of the 2014 indyref campaign “may have contributed to the ‘no’ outcome but it hasn’t quelled demand for further constitutional change or support for the SNP (largely at Labour’s expense)”.

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Smith wrote: “The First Minister has made it clear that she will now push for indyref2.

“This has left Labour in a quandary: it cannot hold, as it has, that the overall election result gives the Tories a Brexit mandate, and simultaneously maintain the result in Scotland cannot be viewed as a mandate for indyref2.

“The democratic wishes of the people of Scotland need to be acknowledged. The Scottish Labour movement should support indyref2.”

But he urged Labour movement to “confront the question of what independence actually means in a modern geo-political and economic context”.

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Smith continued: “No country exists independently. Whether Scotland’s currency is the pound, euro or its own, the ability of its government to act independently will be constrained by the nature of its trading relationships and the strictures of a Central Bank in either London or Frankfurt. Membership of the international community comes with obligations to abide by on a wide range of minimum rights.

“While the question on the ballot paper may remain: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, the real question is what powers, or what elements of Scotland’s sovereignty, are Scottish voters willing to share and with whom?

“The Labour movement has nothing to fear and much to gain from constructive engagement on this. It needs a compelling offer on the constitutional question, without which it will struggle to get the public to respond to the many positive policies it advocates and constitutional rather than class politics will continue to dominate.”

Smith’s call for a second independence plebiscite comes after Labour MSPs Monica Lennon and Neil Findlay also backed the move.

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Writing in the new Scottish Left Review, Findlay said: “We cannot deny the people of Scotland a second referendum where the majority is calling for it. However a clear proposition ... is impossible until we know the outcome of Brexit and that will not happen in 2020.”

He added: “Going back to the days of ’Better Together’ will not help us win back those lost voters or win elections again. Fighting for perpetual second place by fishing in the shallow pool of so called ‘unionist voters’ will never enable Labour to win.”

SNP depute leader Keith Brown welcomed Smith’s comments, which were first published by the Herald.

He said: “Grahame Smith is entirely right to say that the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland should be respected. Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands not those of Boris Johnson.

“No politician or political party should stand in the way of people having that right to choose.

“The Scottish Labour movement should take seriously the advice of Scotland’s top trade unionist and engage positively over how we build a fairer, more prosperous country with the powers of independence.”