Blow for Better Together as Labour MP backs independence


  By a Newsnet reporter
The anti-independence campaign has suffered a setback after a Labour MP publicly backed a Yes vote in September’s referendum.
George Mudie, who is the MP for Leeds East, told the BBC he would vote Yes of he lived in Scotland.

Mr Mudie, who was born in Scotland said: “If I were in Scotland I would be voting for an independent Scotland.  The opportunity should be given, and is being given, to people in Scotland to say ‘do you want to be independent?'”

The pledge of support for Yes from a serving Labour MP is a significant blow to the pro-Union Better Together campaign.  Mr Mudie was a deputy chief whip, and later parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Education and Employment, in Tony Blair’s Labour government.

Mr Mudie’s endorsement was welcomed by former Scottish Labour Party chairman, Bob Thomson, a leading member of Labour for Independence, who said: “George’s positive views on Scottish independence are a big boost for Yes.

“The ranks of Labour movement figures backing Yes continue to grow, with Sir Charles Gray, Alex Mosson, Carol Fox, John Mulvey and many others supporting a Yes vote in September to deliver policies based on real Labour values here in Scotland with a meaningful package of powers transferred to an independent Scottish Parliament.

“Many Labour voters and members are realising that an independent Scottish Parliament is the only way of ensuring that the enormous wealth of Scotland works for all the people of Scotland.”

The news follows a survey which shows public confidence in Mr Mudie’s party colleague, Labour MP Alistair Darling who heads the Better Together campaign, has plummeted.

Analysis of Ipsos MORI polls over the last year has revealed a steady decline in satisfaction in Mr Darling’s performance and increased the pressure on the head of the No campaign.

Satisfaction ratings for the embattled anti-independence leader have declined steadily over the past year from a position of +5% in September 2013, to +3% in December, -3% in February and -16% in June.

Commenting, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said:

“Just as the unrelenting negativity of the No campaign has helped to convince increasing numbers of people to vote Yes, Alistair Darling’s constant counsel of despair has seen the public turn against him.

“Members of the anti-independence campaign have been fighting amongst themselves in recent weeks, while the Yes campaign is busy taking our positive vision for the future of Scotland to streets and doorsteps across the country.”