One of the frontrunners to become the next Labour leader has spelt out his opposition to a separate Scottish party, weeks after suggesting he could back a split.


Andy Burnham told Labour members at a leadership hustings over the weekend that his preference was for a single, united UK party.

Last month Mr Burnham said that there was "a case" for two distinct parties in the wake of Labour's near wipe-out north of the border.

Sources close to the shadow health secretary said that proposals for a separate party had come from within Labour and he had not wanted to dismiss them out of hand.

His stance was backed by Labour MP Tom Watson, who is running for the deputy leadership of the party, yesterday.

Mr Watson said that his "instincts" were against a split but added that he wanted to change the process of policy making to allow the party to "find Scottish solutions in Scotland".

"But for the UK Labour party to somehow jettison what is left of the Scottish Labour party would be cruel and counterproductive," he added.

Scottish Labour leadership contender Kezia Dugdale backed the call for greater autonomy for Scottish Labour as she also ruled out separation.

Cowdenbeath Labour MSP Alex Rowley has said that the party should free itself from the "constraints" of the UK party following last month's disastrous General Election defeat.

Last year Former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont famously complained that the party in Scotland was treated as a "branch office" by London.

But Ms Dugdale said that she favoured a "much more autonomous" Scottish Labour Party instead of two parties.

She added: "I'd like to see us set our own policy here but I don't support an independent party, I think that's wrong.

"I'd like to see us on more regular occasions have a slightly different, a more nuanced position on the issues in Scotland, standing up for Scotland's interests.

"We can do that with greater party autonomy, that doesn't mean we are an independent party, that would mean completely separating ourselves off from our UK colleagues and I don't want to do that, I don't think that's right.

"Especially if you follow the logic of the referendum, which is that we pull and share the resources of our great country."

She and Ken Macintosh, who ran for the leadership in 2011, have both also backed the 'one member, one vote' model to elect a new leader.

Mr Macintosh has also called for councillors to have more of a say within the party - and for the next Scottish Labour deputy leader to come from local government.