SCOTTISH Labour needs to support a second independence referendum to help regain the trust of working people, the former union boss Len McCluskey has said. 

Mr McCluskey, who stepped down after 10 years as Unite general secretary in August, said the SNP had stolen Scottish Labour's "radical clothes", and it must get them back.

The SNP called it a “devastating verdict” on a party with “zero credibility”.

Scottish Labour is firmly against Indyref2 and for keeping the Union intact, despite some of its MSPs saying the electorate should be given the chance to decide.

However Mr McCluskey, whose Union became UK Labour’s biggest donor under his leadership, said the Scottish operation should rethink its position. 

He told BBC Radio Scotland: “We’ve been telling Labour in Scotland since 2007 - when a certain Nicola Sturgeon won a seat in Glasgow - to wake up and smell the coffee.

“The reality is the SNP have stolen the radical clothes of Scottish Labour and Scottish Labour have lost the trust of ordinary working people.

They’re going to have to battle really strongly [to regain that trust].

“In my opinion they should support a second referendum on independence - what they actually do when that referendum comes can still be debated.”

He added: “The truth of the matter is that, in the opinion polls, it doesn’t appear to matter who the leader of the Scottish party is, we’re not making any headway.

“Labour has to do something imaginative and radical.

“Because it’s not like the SNP are being successful in public services or education or health and yet Labour can’t put a glove on them at the moment.”

Mr McCluskey also defended Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of UK Labour, despite the party recording its worst election result in 80 years under him in 2019.

Scottish Labour lost 40 of its 41 MPs in the 2015 general election, recovered to seven seats in 2017, but has had just one MP since 2019 - Ian Murray in Edinburgh South.

Under new leader Anas Sarwar, the party lost two MSPs in May’s Holyrood election, slipping to 22, and stayed third behind the Tories who remained unchanged on 31.

SNP MSP Paul McLennan said: “Len McCluskey’s comments are a devastating verdict on Scottish Labour’s craven attempts to copy the Tories’ position on the constitution. 

“There is a cast-iron mandate for an independence referendum, but instead of recognising that reality and accepting democracy, Labour continue, disgracefully, in trying to collude with Boris Johnson in his bid to thwart the will of the people as expressed in May’s Holyrood election, where Labour suffered their worst defeat since the start of devolution. 

“For as long as Scottish Labour continue to ignore voices like Len McCluskey, Henry McLeish and very many of their own party members – including their Labour colleagues in Wales who recognise the right of the people to choose independence if they wish – they are doomed to irrelevance.”