By a Newsnet reporter
Comments by Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Anas Sarwar have been described as “untrue and unfounded” after the MP claimed a pro-independence campaign set up by Labour party members in Scotland was “led by the SNP”.
Mr Sarwar described ‘Labour for Independence’ as a group which had “maybe a maximum of two, Labour members” and suggested it was a front for the SNP.
The MP made the accusations in the House of Commons during last week's debate on the Section 30 order transferring legal powers from Westminster to Holyrood to conduct the 2014 independence referendum.
Mr Sarwar said: "So you’ve seen launches of the Labour for Independence campaign, where there is one or maybe a maximum of two Labour members fronting a campaign mainly led by the SNP…..”
Labour for Independence has now written an open letter to Mr Sarwar challenging him to admit there is significant support for independence among Labour party members and supporters and that his claim that the group has only two Labour members is wrong.
In the letter to the MP, the group's founder Allan Grogan has listed the names of eight Labour Party members who are signed up either as staff or ambassadors of Labour for Independence. He has also provided a sample of five other party members who he says are LFI supporters or activists – all had given permission for their names to be published.
Mr Grogan explained that whilst they had yet to carry out a full audit of the campaign group that the list of names was clear evidence that Labour for Independence had more than a "maximum of two" members, adding that Mr Sarwar’s accusation that the group was led by the SNP “will be seen for the lie it is”.
In the letter to Mr Sarwar, Mr Grogan writes: "Some might call it admirable that you feel you can give such false information to the British Parliament without any evidence or research behind it. However, we at Labour for Independence believe in an honest political dialogue.
"While Labour membership numbers seem to be especially important to the party HQ when discussing LFI, it is important to stress that we are not solely a members group. We encourage and welcome support from all of Labour, including past supporters.
“We are sure that throughout our social media support and our grass roots campaigning we have and will continue to receive more support from our fellow Labour members.”
Mr Grogan described Mr Sarwar's allegation that LFI was a front for the SNP as “a desperate move by a party hierarchy out of touch with their members, supporters and the people of Scotland”
He added: “I hope this goes some way to giving you the facts. I will assume that you will no longer be peddling such mistruths in future.”
Labour For Independence was set up by Scottish Labour Party member Allan Grogan who became frustrated at the continual refusal of party bosses to acknowledge support among a sizeable number of Labour party supporters for independence.
LFI held their first conference in Glasgow in November 2012. Speakers included former Labour MP and MSP Dennis Canavan, Head of Yes Scotland - Blair Jenkins and former Trade Union activist Tommy Brennan.