LABOUR has replaced democratic socialism with Unionism as its guiding principle, a former adviser to ex-party bigwig Robin Cook has said.

David Clark, who worked for former Foreign Secretary Cook and quit in protest over the invasion of Iraq, said opposition to Scottish independence was now the party’s “core belief system”.

It comes after reports emerged the party could make a change to its rule book to bar making deals with the SNP or other pro-independence parties.

Labour has denied it would change the party’s constitution but a source quoted by the BBC an anti-SNP pledge might be included in a future election manifesto.

Clark, who wrote a blistering takedown of the position in a string of tweets on Sunday, said Labour barring itself from ever working with the SNP was worse than “bonkers”.

He wrote: “This seems bonkers at first glance, but when you think about it, it’s actually much worse. It suggests that Unionism has now supplanted democratic socialism as Labour’s core belief system.”

Labour-Tory deals in Scotland 

Noting the party was not considering a move to similarly rule out working with the Conservatives, he said Scottish Labour candidates at a future election could find themselves faced with awkward questions about controversial Tory deals to block the SNP from power in Scottish councils.

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Clark added: “This proposal is designed to dispose of a political problem in England, but its most obvious impact will be in Scotland where even those not persuaded of the case for independence will understand that Labour sees their constitutional debate as somehow deviant and unacceptable.

The National:

“If this passes, I expect Scottish Labour candidates at the next election to be repeatedly asked why coalitions with the Tories are not also constitutionally prohibited. This will sit alongside increasingly visible examples of Labour-Tory cooperation in Scotland.

“Voters should therefore be expected to draw the obvious conclusion that defending the Union is now more important to Labour than promoting social justice. The effect of this, inevitably, will be to put a low cap on Labour’s ability to recover in Scotland.”

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The plans, originally reported in the Sun on Sunday, have been talked down by Labour HQ, with a source telling the BBC that Starmer “doesn't need to read a rule book to know his values on this”.

But political correspondent David Wallace Lockhart said he was also told the party considered it would “be logical” to include a pledge in a future election manifesto to never work with the SNP.

Are Labour ignoring reality across UK? 

Welsh Labour Senedd member Alun Davies blasted the plans as “nonsense”, adding: “Welsh Labour has a cooperation agreement with Plaid [Cymru].

“And we have had a coalition with Plaid in the past. It’s time for UK Labour to learn from the success of Welsh Labour rather than the failures of Scottish Labour.”

Turning into the Tories? 

Kirsten Oswald, the SNP’s deputy leader in Westminster, said Starmer was attempting to mimic the Tories to win power.

The National: Kirsten Oswald has said Starmer is trying to copy the Tories Kirsten Oswald has said Starmer is trying to copy the Tories

She said: “Regardless of whether this is a genuine plan, this bungled posturing shows Keir Starmer is running scared of the Tories and is too afraid to challenge their regressive policies head-on.

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“You don’t beat the Tories by turning into them - but that’s exactly what the Labour Party is doing under Starmer's leadership.

"Instead of offering a real alternative, they are copying the Tories on Brexit, austerity cuts, democracy denial, and their arrogant treatment of Scotland and the devolved nations.

“Not only is it a sign of weakness but, if this plan was actually implemented via a rule change or more informal approach, it would put the Labour Party in the absurd and unfathomable position of ruling out working with progressive parties like the SNP, Greens, Plaid Cymru and SDLP, while leaving the door wide open to a deal with the Tories, DUP or UKIP.

"If this juvenile half-baked plan goes ahead, Labour would be the only party in the UK to have a constitutional proscription on working with other parties. Not even the DUP, who have been in government with Sinn Fein, hold themselves to such ridiculous extremes.”

She said the “high-handed” leadership at Labour HQ was “sticking two fingers up” to Scottish voters, as well as ignoring how the party works successfully across the political divide in Wales and Northern Ireland.

A Labour source said: "Keir’s been categorical - no deal into an election, no deal out.

"Keir doesn’t need a rule book to know his values on this. He would never consider working with a party that wanted to break up the UK."