LABOUR has been accused of pre-emptively trying to stop Scottish independence with the party putting forward an amendment to the Government’s Referendums Bill.

According to reports in our pro-independence sister paper The NationalMSP James Kelly has put forward a Stage 2 amendment which, if approved, would mean that a referendum would only be valid if “a minimum of 50% of the total number of persons entitled to vote in the referendum” do so.

The SNP said that this could lead to a situation where No voters could be encouraged to stay at home on polling day rather than vote in Indyref2 came around. 

It is believed that the amendment is due to be considered tomorrow by Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon backs down in row over Indyref2 question

The SNP MSP Angela Constance said that the amendment was like the 40% rule that led to the Yes vote for Scottish devolution being rejected in 1979.

She accused Labour of “putting forward wrecking amendments to the Referendums Bill to scupper a Yes vote and once again stand in the way of Scottish democracy”.

Constance told The National: “It is inconceivable that a new referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country would not be much higher than 50%. In 2014 it was 85%.

“This amendment may on first reading seem reasonable, but it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s not just that it is unnecessary – its only purpose is to encourage a boycott of the poll if it look like Yes is going to win.

“Not since the devolution referendum of 1979 – where Labour MPs put forward the notorious ‘40% rule’ which meant that the Yes vote was scuppered – have Labour been so guilty of such a brazenly anti-democratic act, in a last ditch effort to maintain Westminster control over Scotland.


“People in Scotland have the right to determine their future. This anti-democratic wrecking amendment must be withdrawn.”

READ MORE: Labour facing rout in Scotland after poll suggests it will retain only one of its seven seats

In the 1979 vote Labour MP George Cunningham amended the Scotland Act so that any referendum required the approval of 40% of the total electorate.

While 1,230,937 Scots voted in favour of a Scottish Assembly, around 52%, it only represented around 33% of the registered electorate as a whole.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold Indyref2 in the second half of 2020.