Tories demand 'pro-independence' Labour council candidates in Edinburgh withdraw

Anas Sarwar has been told by the Scottish Conservatives to deselect three Labour council candidates in Edinburgh who are ‘pro-independence’.

Miles Briggs, the Scottish Conservative spokesperson for local government, said the selection of the candidates “flies in the face” of claims from the Scottish Labour leader the party was “pro-UK”.

Mr Sarwar has previously said Labour would not “pretend we believe in something we don’t” and that candidates must support the union.

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Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is facing pressure over 'pro-independence' council candidates

Ross McKenzie, a Labour candidate for the Sighthill/Gorgie ward, has described himself on Twitter as a “Yes voter” and has demanded the Scottish Parliament has the powers to hold a referendum.

In one tweet during the 2019 election, he stated: “A lot of us voted Yes, and would do so again, but we need these ideas to get some support. If Leithers won’t give it, who will?”

Mr McKenzie also criticised the coalition between Labour and Conservative councillors in Aberdeen, labelling it a “disgrace”.

Another candidate for the Corstorphine/Murrayfield ward, Richard Parker, shared a speech by the former depute leader of the SNP, Jim Sillars, during the first independence referendum and posted a graphic asking people to vote Yes and then Labour in 2016.

Katrina Faccenda, a candidate for Leith, has also posted tweets expressing support for Holyrood to have the power for a second independence referendum.

She attacked former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard for not backing a second referendum.

Mr Briggs said these candidates and any other pro-independence candidates on Labour’s ticket should be ‘ditched’.

He said: “This flies in the face of Anas Sarwar promising that all Labour council candidates would be pro-UK. Given that pledge and these revelations, he must ditch any candidate who supports independence.

“You simply cannot trust Labour to stand up to the SNP. They’ve been in coalition with the nationalists in six councils across Scotland since 2017.

“They are now ashamed of being a pro-UK party and have gone backwards in every election since devolution.

“Unlike Labour, the Scottish Conservatives have the strength to stand up to the SNP and deliver on voters local priorities.”

Scottish Labour have come under attack during this election campaign around their candidate choices, which have included a former Grand Master of the Orange Order.

The Scottish Conservatives have also been criticised by the SNP for choosing candidates heavily critical of Nicola Sturgeon and one who had an interest in far right commentators and the KKK.

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “Every Scottish Labour candidate at the elections in May is committed to representing the aims and values of the Scottish Labour Party – a party which believes Scotland belongs in a renewed and reformed United Kingdom.

“It is frankly laughable that the Tories claim to be the party of the Union.

“It is the callousness and incompetence of the Tories that does the most damage to the fabric of the UK.

“Only Scottish Labour is committed to opposing the divisive politics of the SNP and Tories and securing Scotland’s place in a renewed UK.”

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