Unite leader Steve Turner says indyref2 is “a question for the people of Scotland”

THE frontrunner in the race to become the leader of the second largest union in the UK has made it clear that a second independence referendum concerns people living in Scotland.

Steve Turner is the left-wing favorite to succeed Len McCluskey as general secretary of Unite, which represents the interests of 1.4 million members in industries such as manufacturing, construction and transportation.

In an interview released today, Turner was asked about his views on Scotland’s constitutional position.

“I still think it’s a decision for the Scottish people. People living in Scotland will be making a decision about their own future – it’s not for me to comment from London,” he said.

He stressed that he would delegate the political post to Pat Rafferty, Scottish Regional Secretary General.

“I will delegate to Pat and our regional committee in Scotland and they will brief me and guide me on what they think needs to be done.

He added: “I believe in self-determination and have always done so. It is an issue that will be debated at length by our members. And as a national union we will be guided by them.”

In the interview with the Record, Turner said he was the only candidate who had “the experience, integrity and empathy” to lead Unite as workers face an economy battered by the pandemic. coronavirus.

Turner, from south London, joined the former Transport and General Workers Union at the age of 19 and currently serves as Deputy General Secretary, in charge of Unite’s manufacturing sector.

He has already secured the support of McCluskey and Rafferty.

The union remains Labor’s largest donor and whoever wins leadership – Turner faces two other candidates – will become a hugely influential figure in British politics.

“We have to do what we have always said Labor has to do – we have to reconnect, we have to organize in areas of the economy where we have been absent and have not put our resources,” he said. .

“We will be moving into hospitality and healthcare, and other areas where a forgotten workforce has been overlooked for too long.”

Gary Smith, the newly elected GMB general secretary, told the Record he supported a review of his union’s financial donations to Labor.

Turner, a longtime Labor member, said: “I would not personally support this, but it is not my decision. Our union is a democracy.

“The best defense against this, of course, is for Labor to get real and stand up for the interests of our members.”

Outgoing Unite boss McCluskey revealed two years ago that he would have voted for independence had he lived in Scotland at the time of the 2014 referendum.

But he added that Jeremy Corbyn’s subsequent election as Britain’s Labor leader meant he had changed his position.

Turner began his career as a bus driver for London Transport in the early 1980s.

Union bosses in Scotland backed indyref2 in a vote in April if a majority of pro-independence MPs were elected in May.

The STUC congress backed a motion declaring that Holyrood should have the power to hold a referendum on the future of Scotland and should not need the consent of Boris Johnson and the UK government.

The motion also said the UK government would not have to resist a second vote if a majority of pro-independence MPs were elected to Holyrood – as well as a clear preference from the Scottish public for a new election of the 2014 vote. Voters have returned to a pro-independence parliament in the May 6 elections.

STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said after the motion was adopted: ‘Our vote today reaffirmed the right of the people of Scotland to self-determination and recognized that as a central democratic institution in Scotland our parliament should have the power to decide if and when to hold a second referendum.

“We have also made it clear that any future referendum should not be limited to a binary choice if a meaningful third option is developed.”

The motion was welcomed by the SNP and the Greens, but the pressure on Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar who stressed that his opposition to another referendum on independence was “unequivocal”.