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Revealed: Labour candidate says Dugdale 'comfortable' with members backing independence

Kezia Dugdale is facing fresh calls to explain Labour's position on independence amid new evidence her candidates are openly backing a separate Scotland.

It follows a Women for Independence hustings last week at which Labour's Mid Scotland and Fife candidate Mary Lockhart discussed her support for independence and said Ms Dugdale was "comfortable" with candidates doing so.

Ms Lockhart also claimed that, after the election, she expected a lot of "soul-searching" within the Labour party over whether it should support independence or not.

At present, she said, Scottish Labour "won't campaign for independence, it just won't stop anybody else from doing so".

It comes with Labour preparing to launch their manifesto tomorrow claiming to oppose independence. 

However, on Sunday, Ms Dugdale refused to answer questions over whether Labour candidates would be allowed to support independence. Previously, she has said they are entitled to do so.

Ms Lockhart's comments can be listened to in the audio clip below and came during a Women for Independence hustings in Birnam last Thursday.

She was responding to a question from an audience member who claimed there were Labour MSPs who backed independence.

Ms Lockhart said: "Kezia Dugdale has already indicated she is comfortable for Labour members to campaign for a Yes vote."

Discussing Labour's position on the constitution, she revealed a conversation with deputy leader Alex Rowley, claiming he wants to move to a federal system of government.

"I spoke with Alex Rowley about this last night and he said that he supported home rule. I asked for a clearer definition of home rule...Alex Rowley's working of it out was a federal system of all the countries of Britain which might actually in the end include Ireland."

She then discusses what may happen to Scottish Labour after the election.

"Ironically, we're relying on a re-influx of people who came in because of Corbyn but who support independence."

On whether Labour will support independence eventually, she concludes: "It will depend on who joins and who leaves after this election. I will still certainly be arguing for a campaign for independence within the Labour party. The party is unlikely this time to adopt a line. It won't campaign for independence; it just won't stop anybody else from doing so."

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: 

"Kezia Dugdale refused to say at the weekend whether or not Labour candidates were allowed to back independence.

"Now we know why - while Scottish Labour claims to be the party of the union, its candidates are telling public meetings they support breaking it up.

"Mary Lockhart's support for independence is well known and she has an honest position.

"But if Ms Dugdale is whole-hearted about her support for the Union, why are her candidates who oppose the Union allowed to stand?

"Ms Dugdale now needs to make it clear whether she is happy for candidates like Ms Lockhart to campaign for independence or not.

"The bigger question is how Labour can hold the SNP to account on independence when its own candidates support it?

"This weakness will only allow the SNP to push ahead with their plans for a second referendum, and stop us getting the better government we all want.

"A strong Scottish Conservative opposition will be is clear about supporting our place in the UK - so that we stop a second referendum and get the Scottish Government focused on what matters."


Notes to editors:

To listen to the audio from the meeting, visit:

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