The Scottish Labour party will ignore the views of the Scottish people if they vote in favour of a second referendum on independence in the forthcoming Holyrood election.
The position was revealed during a live television debate broadcast by STV after Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale was asked if she would respect a majority view.
Dugdale was asked by host Bernard Ponsonby if she would respect the result of the Holyrood election if it showed support for a second referendum.
He said: “Your party believes in the sovereignty of the people. If the First Minister in her manifesto seeks a mandate for it and gets a mandate for it, will you respect that?”
The Scottish Labour leader immediately replied, “No”, adding: “I’ll tell you now. Our manifesto will rule out another referendum for the lifetime of the next parliament.”
Dugdale’s announcement that she will ignore a democratic mandate for a second independence referendum emerged less than a year after she herself demanded the SNP include such a commitment in the party’s manifesto.
In a tweet weeks before the UK general election Dugdale, who was then Jim Murphy’s deputy, called on the SNP to test support for a second referendum.
The issue of the constitution has proved uncomfortable for the inexperienced Scottish Labour leader who last year said she would allow her own MPs and MSPs to campaign for independence, telling them “you can vote however you wish” in a future referendum.
With the SNP set to dominate May’s Holyrood election, there is a very real prospect of the party winning a mandate for a second referendum and holding that mandate until 2021. With the UK general election scheduled for 2020, a future UK Labour government will have to choose between the democratic will of the Scottish people and its own party north of the border should it face having to legally sanction a second independence ballot.