A CANDIDATE to be the next general secretary of Unite has raised the prospect of ending the trade union's funding to Scottish Labour.

Sharon Graham has also made clear she backs “self-determination” and that the policy on independence and indyref2 should be decided by the organisation's membership in Scotland.

Anas Sarwar's party opposes independence and a second referendum and has fallen substantially in its influence in Scotland from when the union began supporting it financially.

Graham is the only candidate to publish a Scotland Ireland Wales dedicated section in her manifesto and raised the possibility of ending the political levy to Scottish Labour in the document.

It says: "If elected general secretary, to give our members in Scotland more power to make decisions that are best for them, I will:

* Prioritise delivering a fully resourced, comprehensive industrial strategy for Scotland.

* Ensure that political decision-making will be fully devolved, including contributions from the political fund."

The move to stop funding Labour would be a massive blow to the party as the trade union is its biggest donor.

It raises the possibility that Unite members under her leadership could switch their political fund donations to the pro-independence SNP or Scottish Greens or give some funding to each of the parties.

A three-way contest between Graham, Steve Turner and Gerard Coyne is under way to replace Len McCluskey as the union chief with the winner declared next month.

Graham, 51, leads the union’s organising department, and has secured support from branches across the UK, including in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

In an interview with the Record today, the former waitress also criticised the “toxic” and “vile” abuse she has faced in the contest and claimed she is scaring the union establishment: “I’d say the boys are a bit worried.”

She added: “We need now to devolve the responsibility, accountability, and the decision-making of the political decisions around Scotland into Scotland.”

In practice, she said this means Unite members would decide whether or not to fund Scottish Labour under Sarwar.

“I don’t know what will come out of that debate, but it will [be a] debate that will be had in Scotland," she told the paper.

She also said members will “absolutely” determine the union’s position in any independence referendum: “As far as indyref2 is concerned, I have long believed in self determination. It’s up to the Scottish people to decide what they want to do. Whatever that outcome will be will be their decision, not anybody else’s decision. And that goes for how I intend to run the union.”

Graham, born and raised in Hammersmith in London, supports calls for employment law to be devolved to Holyrood, a move that would give MSPs the ability to set a higher minimum wage.

“I see this in a very positive way”, she said, adding that Scotland could set the “pace” on trade union rights.

Graham also made clear industrial strategy, not politics or Labour, would be her top priority.

“The parliamentary Labour Party has never won a pay rise for workers, they’ve never won a strike for workers.

“I think for too long it has been the political tail wagging the industrial dog, and I really want that to go back the other way.”

Graham’s critics want her to stand down as they fear her presence in the race could let Coyne win.

She hit back by saying “horrible, vile” comments had been made about her: “A definite line has been crossed. The abuse that I’ve taken has been unprecedented in a union election – online, social media, mock ups of me as Margaret Thatcher.

“My 12-year-old son said to me, ‘why are they attacking you, mum, when all you want to do is help workers’?

“It made me more determined.”

The ballot in the contest opened on July 5 and closes at noon on August 23 with the results announced on August 26.