Kezia Dugdale announced that the plans which will be put forward to the Labour national conference in Liverpool this weekend “means Scottish Labour is now on track to become fully autonomous” before concluding the sentence with the phrase “within the UK Labour Party.” What does that mean?
The key tenants of the plan, as outlined in their press release, sound good. The plans will mean that:
- The SEC will be responsible for the procedures and selection of all UK parliamentary candidates in Scotland;
- The SEC will have overall responsibility for the management of Constituency Labour Parties in Scotland;
- The Scottish Labour Party will be directly represented with voting rights on the NEC by a frontbench member of the Scottish Parliament, nominated by the Scottish Labour leader;
- Scottish Labour will have full control over policy making, including in reserved policy areas.
All pretty weighty, substantial changes. It could see us in a situation whereby at the next UK General Election we have Scottish Labour MPs elected to Westminster on the backing of a different manifesto to their southern comrades.
But that turn of phrase: “fully autonomous within the UK Labour Party”. To us, that is not a fully autonomous party. We come to the conclusion that it must mean that the Scottish Labour Party will still be dependent on the UK Labour Party for money. And, in the end, despite the change on paper about where decisions are made, ultimately, decisions are usually made where the money stems from.