Labour cannot rule out blocking Scottish legislation using Section 35 – Murray

A Labour government cannot “categorically” rule out blocking Scottish legislation but would seek to repair relations with Holyrood, Ian Murray has said.

The shadow Scottish secretary said his party’s triumph against the SNP in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election showed voters wanted positive change with both governments working together.

He said a veto using Section 35 of the Scotland Act should never be a “first resort”, in reference to the UK Government’s block on gender reform laws.

The outcome of the challenge is still being determined by judge Lady Haldane.

Speaking to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland (GMS) programme from the Labour conference in Liverpool, Mr Murray was asked if he could rule out using a similar block.

He said: “Well we can’t categorically say that because the reason Section 35 exists in the Scotland Act – it was developed by Donald Dewar when he was first minister – was to make sure devolution could work.

“And what we need to do is make sure that Section 35 is a very, very last resort and not the first resort and that means you’ve got to repair relationships and work together.”

“I think the Scottish people want both governments, whatever colour they are, to work together,” he said.

“I’m determined if I become Scottish secretary to try and resolve some of those relationship problems.

“At least until 2026 (Holyrood) elections, we know we’ll have an SNP Government in Scotland and we’ve got to try and find ways to get working together and make those intergovernmental relationships work properly.”

However, he also expressed confidence in his party’s message ahead of next year’s general election and beyond to the Holyrood elections following the by-election victory for Scottish Labour’s Michael Shanks last week.

“The result on Thursday was just the culmination of that first stage of recovery,” he told GMS.

“We’re looking forward to winning every vote on every doorstep across Scotland because we feel as if we’ve got a real message of change to put forward to people and they’re really responding to it.”

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