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Scotland’s most senior councillor ditches Labour after previously backing new independence vote

Alison Evison.

Scotland’s most senior councillor has ditched Labour and will stand as an independent in Aberdeenshire after finding herself at odds with party leader Anas Sarwar’s stance on a new Scottish independence vote.

Alison Evison, who is president of the local authority umbrella group Cosla, will quit the party ahead of May’s local elections and stand instead to represent the Mearns ward as an independent member.

Ms Evison, a current North Kincardine councillor, said her decision to leave Labour is a “positive” one and that she is not disaffected with the party.

However, her previous comments backing a second referendum may have fallen foul of Mr Sarwar’s stated criteria for Scottish Labour candidates.

Writing in 2019, Ms Evison said: “It’s straightforward to me: democracy must be at the core of all we do.

“Recently it has become fragile and we must strengthen it again.

“We can strengthen it by enabling the voice of Scotland to be heard through its formal processes and that must mean a referendum on independence.”

Labour leader shoots down prospect of pro-independence candidates

Earlier this year, Mr Sarwar ruled out the prospect of Scottish Labour running any pro-independence candidates.

He stated Labour “will be a pro-UK party standing for a reformed and renewed UK” and that “all our candidates would be expected to abide by that manifesto”.

The Scottish Labour boss said the party would welcome people who had backed Yes during the first referendum but had since changed their minds.

Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar on the campaign trail putting election leaflets through doors, in Toryglen, Glasgow.

In a recent Facebook post, Ms Evison announced she would be standing in the Mearns ward, where she lives, adding: “Communities, not politics, must be at the heart.”

Although the post confirmed her candidacy, she made no mention of Labour.

Asked by the Daily Record if she would be standing for the party, Ms Evison confirmed: “No, it’s not on a Labour ticket.”

Asked if standing as an independent meant she would no longer be a Labour member, she said: “If you’re independent, you’re independent.

“It’s what it says on the tin, isn’t it?”

A devastating blow

Last year, Scottish Labour candidate Hollie Cameron was removed by the party ahead of the Scottish Parliament election after she backed a second referendum.

SNP MSP Paul McLennan described Ms Evison’s decision to quit the Labour party as a “devastating blow to Anas Sarwar”.

He said: “Devoid of any positive vision for the future, Scottish Labour have consigned themselves to political oblivion.

Aberdeenshire Labour councillor calls for independence referendum

“Their support for the broken Union at any cost has completely alienated them from voters in Scotland.

“Scottish Labour need a reality check or they face slipping even further down in the polls.”

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “People have the chance to elect a local champion that will stand up for their local community on May 5 by voting Scottish Labour.

“Scottish Labour is committed to standing a full array of candidates who are committed to Scotland’s national recovery and to their local communities.”

Alison Evison was approached for comment.

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