IT has been revealing that, over the past couple of weeks, both the leader of the SNP and the leader of the Conservatives here in Glasgow have peddled roughly the same narrative.

In a recent extended interview, Susan Aitken claimed that she expected some Labour councillors would campaign for independence in any future referendum. Thomas Kerr, in his column earlier this week, was happy to parrot that baseless claim and suggest that only the Tories could be trusted with the constitution.

This narrative suits the SNP and the Tories just fine. The SNP want to portray themselves as the only bastion against Westminster and proffer independence as the universal cure for all ills. Cllr Kerr and his colleagues wish to be seen as the sole protectors of the union and that, in doing so, welfare cuts, austerity and Boris Johnson’s general incompetence will be of only marginal concern.

There is, of course, an alternative narrative. One that it is in the political interest of both the SNP and the Tories to ignore or deny. It is perfectly possible to believe in the benefits of being part of the UK while condemning many of the policies of the current UK government. You can be passionate in defence of devolution but be wholly unimpressed by the policies and achievements (or lack of them) of Nicola Sturgeon and her regime at Holyrood.

The current Covid crisis has highlighted the crying need for engaged and constructive criticism of both our governments. In truth they have followed much the same strategy and have experienced fairly similar outcomes. The only real difference has been in perception. As Angus Robertson, former deputy leader of the SNP and aspirant MSP, recently boasted, the only thing that matters is the perception that the Scottish government have done a better job.

Even that image is starting to crumble as the infection rates rise again pictures of students locked down in their halls fill the media.

In this, as in so many other areas, it is only the Labour Party that can freely criticise the actions of both Westminster and Holyrood.

Here in Glasgow our citizens have suffered disproportionately from cuts imposed by the SNP and by the Tories. Whether it has been swinging cuts to local government finance meted out year on year by the SNP or sweeping welfare cuts, it’s the policy that is wrong not the geographic location of the policy maker.

Despite what Cllrs Aitken or Kerr may claim, the position of Labour here in Glasgow is clear and consistent. We reject independence and see no need for another divisive referendum. There are far more important things to deal with; particularly as we, hopefully soon, emerge into the post-Covid world. The economy, education, health, social care, these are the things that Labour is passionate about and, in truth, most deeply affect the citizens of Glasgow.

So Labour is neither weak on the constitution nor somehow in bed with the Tories simply because we do not believe separation will solve anything. In the lead up to next year’s Scottish elections and the Council elections in 2021, I for one will be regularly repeating that message and offering a clear Labour alternative to both the SNP and the Tories.