Following the election of Sharon Graham as Unite’s new general secretary last night, the SNP rushed to congratulate her, claiming her victory left Sir Keir Starmer and Labour "exposed” on Scottish independence.

It is no surprise, given that during the campaign for the position, Graham was the only candidate to publish a dedicated manifesto on the devolved nations.

In it, she hit out over Boris Johnson’s opposition to a second Scottish independence referendum and said a new vote should be up to people who live in Scotland.

On Wales, she committed to ensuring that "political decision-making will be fully devolved and that the relationship with Welsh Labour is determined by activists in Wales.”

Graham, who was the surprise winner in the three-way contest, taking  37.7 per cent of the vote, was elected on a manifesto that said “we have tried our political project within Labour – it has failed”.

That will likely provide Sir Keir Starmer with more respite than Ms Graham's Corbyn supporting predecessor Len McCluskey afforded him.

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In intending to prioritise workplace organising over internal party politics, Unite will likely cut a calmer, more distant figure to Labour. 

Sir Keir welcomed the news by tweeting: “Congratulations to UniteSharon on her election as general secretary of Unite – the first ever woman to hold that role.

"I’m looking forward to working together to improve the lives of working people across the country.”

But Ms Graham's position on Scottish independence and leaving devolved administrations to their own devices may be an issue for Sir Keir.

Responding to her election victory, SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: “It’s entirely right and proper that the new leader of one of the country’s biggest unions recognises and respects Scottish democracy.

“But it leaves Labour’s Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar ever more exposed for their continued denial of the cast iron mandate for a Scottish independence referendum for recovery.

“Labour is shamefully out of step and out of touch with large chunks of their own supporters and the trade union movement.

“It’s well past time Labour woke up and stopped siding with Boris Johnson against the will of the people of Scotland.”

You would expect the SNP to say that, with Labour in both Scotland and Westminster viewed as obstructors to independence.

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Sir Keir, trailing the Tories in the polls and facing a 'make or break' moment at the annual Labour Party Conference next month, has somewhat of a dismissive position on Scottish independence and a second referendum. 

His line is a simple one: "Scottish politicians should focus on recovery instead of a referendum."

He said the same while visiting Wales during the Senedd election campaign earlier this year, but you feel there is only so long that can can be kicked down the road.

With the SNP now formally joining forces with the Scottish Greens to secure a pro-indy majority in Holyrood, calls are likely to grow for indy-ref 2.

If Ms Graham decides to leave Scottish union members to their own devices on a second poll, that is one less friend for Starmer to lean on.

Of course, what happens in Scotland has a major impact on what happens here in Wales, especially with the Government here looking to wrestle with the future of the UK through its Reforming Our Union work.

Ms Graham doesn't appear to be in any hurry to wade into what the Welsh party or what members of her union in Wales want. 

If they decide to move further away from Sir Keir's position, he may find himself with fewer close allies north of Hadrian's Wall and west of Offa's Dyke.

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