Labour split over Scottish Referendum!

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Scottish workers marching in London against Tory government cuts

SCOTTISH Labour may hold a special conference in the spring to decide whether to change its stance on supporting a second Scottish independence referendum.

The party is currently opposed to Scotland leaving the union.

Several senior figures are calling for that position to change after Scottish Labour lost all but one of its MPs in last month’s general election.

Party sources told BBC Scotland that it was too early to say that Labour is ready to back a referendum.

But they said that a multi-option referendum, which would also give voters the choice of maximum devolution within the UK, might be more likely to win the party’s support.

It is understood that Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard wants to hold the special conference in May, and will present his proposals to the party’s executive committee today.

Labour won just 18.6% of the votes in the election in Scotland, losing six of its seven seats to the SNP in the latest in a series of disastrous election results over the past decade.

There has been confusion over Labour’s position on a second independence referendum, ‘indyref2’, since shadow chancellor John McDonnell contradicted Leonard last August by insisting that the party would not stand in the way of a referendum.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn later said during the election campaign that a Labour government would not back a referendum in its ‘formative years’.

Scottish Labour MSPs including Neil Findlay and Monica Lennon have called for Labour to rethink its position in the wake of its election defeat, arguing that it should be for the Scottish Parliament – rather than Westminster – to decide if and when a vote on independence is held.

But Ian Murray, the party’s only remaining MP in Scotland and a candidate to become Labour’s next deputy leader, has urged it to remain a firmly ‘pro-UK party’.

Scottish Labour is likely to split on the issue.