THE SNP’s Westminster chief has written a scathing letter to the Labour leader after one of his MPs attempted to block Scottish democracy.

Ian Murray, the Edinburgh South representative and Labour’s sole MP north of the Border, reached out to the UK Government’s highest ranking civil servant urging him to stop the Scottish Government’s independence planning.

It came after a Freedom of Information request revealed that Holyrood has 11 civil servants working on creating the independence prospectus promised by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Some estimations suggested the team, led by senior civil servant David Rogers, is costing around £700,000 a year.

READ MORE: Here's what the latest polls suggest for the Tories, Keir Starmer and indyref2

Murray declared this a “wasteful use of taxpayers’ money” and asked Simon Case to “reverse this decision”.

The Scottish Government defended itself against the shadow Scotland secretary’s intervention, saying: “It is the role of the civil service to support the elected government of the day in developing and implementing its policies.”

This position was backed up by former Tory MSP Adam Tomkins who said he did not understand where Murray was coming from. “Like it or not, it is Scot Gov policy to pursue indy via a second indyref,” he said.

The National:

After the exchange, the SNP accused Labour of “siding with the Tories to thwart Scottish democracy”.

Blackford has now urged Starmer (above, left) to distance himself from Murray and rule out working with the Tories to prevent Scotland from exercising her democracy.

The full letter from Blackford to Starmer is below:


Dear Keir,

Last week you said you believed that Boris Johnson and his party were treating Scotland with “utter disdain” and then went on to say a Westminster Labour government would give more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

"Disdain" is indeed an accurate description of how the Tories have ignored Scotland’s views over Brexit and much else besides going back nearly 70 years, trampled on the devolution settlement by imposing laws against Holyrood’s will – and have also mounted a power grab on Scotland’s national Parliament.

Yet, your only MP in Scotland has written to the head of the UK civil service demanding that he should “investigate and rule” on the Scottish Government for planning for an independence referendum – something for which the electorate of Scotland voted at last May’s Holyrood election when they elected a majority of MSPs in support of a referendum – greater than that of 2011.

This is an extraordinary move for any party which professes to respect democracy in Scotland, and one utterly at odds with the sentiments you expressed just last week.

Actions speak louder than words, and from those actions it would seem that Labour’s position is actually solidly aligned with Boris Johnson’s when it comes to Scotland.

In the interests of transparency, did you sign off on or in any way approve this letter? And if not, will you now publicly distance yourself from its contents?

If you do not, then the only conclusion which people will draw is that – far from the claims of your rhetoric – you and your party stand shoulder to shoulder with Boris Johnson and are siding with the Tories in your joint efforts to thwart democracy and the will of the Scottish people.


Ian Blackford