SCOTTISH Labour have been accused of being out of step with their supporters after publishing a manifesto which opposed a second independence referendum – a day after trade union bosses backed a new vote.

Party leader Anas Sarwar unveiled his election commitments today with a central pledge to oppose indyref2.

Sarwar told journalists at a briefing after the launch that he opposed independence and a new vote on the issue and instead wanted to focus on recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

The manifesto said: “While the country is focused on recovery from Covid-19 over the next five years, we will not support a second independence referendum.”

But yesterday, the STUC congress backed a motion which states that the UK Government should not resist a second vote if a majority of pro-independence MSPs are elected to Holyrood at next month’s election.

It also voted in favour of a motion stating that Holyrood should have the power to hold a referendum on Scotland’s future and should not need the consent of Boris Johnson and the UK Government.

READ MORE: STUC votes in favour of holding independence referendum with or without UK consent

Sarwar’s party has close ties to the 50 unions who make up the STUC and its stance on indyref2 appears to put the party as odds with the wider Labour movement.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said that Scottish Labour were completely out of touch with their own supporters.

Furthermore, an Ipsos Mori poll published earlier this week found that two-thirds of 2019 UK Labour voters would support a referendum if a pro-independence majority is returned at the election.

In a move which has heaped further pressure on Sarwar, his Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford recently said he has always believed that “if a party won an election in Wales with a referendum on independence in its manifesto then it would’ve won the right to hold such a referendum”.

Brown said: “Labour may have yet another new leader, but it’s the same old anti-democratic position of denying the people of Scotland’s right to determine their own future – they are completely out of touch with their own supporters.

“Anas Sarwar is also at odds with the trade unions, who have made clear their support for the basic democratic principle that there should be a referendum if the people of Scotland vote for one.

“Rather than letting the people of Scotland decide what kind of recovery they want to build after the pandemic, a vote for Labour means leaving the key decisions about Scotland’s future in the hands of Boris Johnson and the Tories.

“That means all the damage to jobs and the economy of Brexit, the obscene waste of money on more nuclear weapons and as well as more Tory attacks on the funding and powers of the Scottish Parliament.

“This is a crucial moment in our country’s history – and when the crisis of the pandemic has passed, the people of Scotland should have a right to decide if they want to choose a better future of independence to help drive the recovery. If Labour continue to sit on the fence, their terminal decline in Scotland will only continue.”

Sarwar launched his first manifesto as Scottish Labour leader, calling it a “route map to stronger and better times for our country”.

He said the proposals amounted to a National Recovery Plan from the ravages of the pandemic, adding that rebuilding the country and boosting jobs should be the priority, not the constitutional arguments, and offered himself as a unifying figure.

He said he was willing to “work with anyone to rebuild the country we love”.

The manifesto stated: "Scottish Labour will seek to avoid increasing income tax.

"If there is a need to increase income tax revenues during the next parliamentary term, Scottish Labour would support changes that generate income from those earning over £100,000 a year "In the long-term, Scottish Labour’s plan for jobs, skills and the economy would grow our income tax receipts."

The party also said it would explore "a series of new and fairer forms of taxation on areas that we recognise are common goods but are currently used by the private sector e.g. land value capture and taxing based on the polluter pays principle".

The launch coincided with new polls showing Sarwar enjoying a surge in personal approval ratings, but his party still set to come third behind the Tories on May 6.

The manifesto covered five main areas: Jobs recovery – guaranteeing a job for every young Scot and investing in training and upskilling people NHS recovery - funding the NHS to get cancer treatment back on track, improve mental health, and give carers "the pay they deserve".

Education recovery – developing a comeback plan which invests in schools, and ensures IT support in every primary and secondary school.

Climate recovery - Investing in green jobs and seizing Scotland’s hosting of COP26 to champion an ambitious climate justice plan.

Community recovery – helping high streets recover and investing in local areas to make communities safer and stronger.

The 38-year-old Glasgow MSP, who replaced the hapless Richard Leonard as Scottish Labour leader in February, delivered a speech on the manifesto in Greenock.

He said: “This is not a normal election. It is a pandemic election. More than 10,000 families in Scotland are coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.

“Many more are worried about their cancer diagnosis, their children’s mental health, or whether they have a job to go back to.

“The challenges ahead of us are huge and they require us to work together.

“And the truth is that the politics of division has only delivered more poverty and greater inequality.

“We can’t afford our politics to go on like this for the next five years. I’m calling time on the old politics.

“Scotland deserves better. Just imagine what we could achieve if we come together and focus on what unites us, not what divides us.

“We have a politics that speaks to 100% of people in Scotland, not just the 50% the SNP and the Tories want to speak to.

“So let’s not spend the next five years on re-running old arguments, or the timing of a vote, or battles in the courts.

“Let’s spend the next five years on a national recovery.

“That’s what I am offering you at this election.

"By voting Scottish Labour you can make the difference.

"We are the only party standing in this election that believes we can deliver a fair recovery right now.

“If – like me – you believe that this is the time to focus on what unites us as a country, then both votes for Scottish Labour will make that happen.”