Scottish Labour considering independent party status in post-election shakeup


Party ‘autonomy consultation’ forms part of attempts to come to grips with defeat

SCOTTISH Labour is conducting a review into whether it should become independent from the UK wide party, following its recent relegation to third place in the Scottish Parliament.

The party’s leading bodies, its National and Scottish Executives, have created a working group to carry out the ‘autonomy consultation’, which made the suggestion alongside a range of other possible changes to the party’s status.

A section on the consultation document, distributed to party members and reproduced in the Herald reads: “Other than the status quo, there are a number of broad approaches to [party] reform. At one end of the spectrum is further devolution from the UK party and at the other, the creation of an independent Scottish Labour Party.

“In between is a ‘federal-type’ option where members belong to the Scottish Labour Party first and foremost, and agreement is reached over which matters and procedures are shared on a UK basis.”

Read: Scotland, Home Rule and socialism – the politics of Kier Hardie

Labour has long been split over the relationship between the Scottish party, which is operationally autonomous, and the UK-wide party, which every Scottish member remains part of. Some claim that Scottish Labour’s appearance of being a local franchise of the UK party undermines it in the eyes of the electorate, whilst some party figures have warned that adopting independence for the party would be pandering to nationalism. The Scottish party also receives funding from the UK party.

Former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont famously criticised the UK Labour party for treating the Scottish party as a “branch office”, following the Scottish independence referendum.

Scottish Labour has been embroiled in internal discussion on its future development after its disastrous performance in May’s Scottish elections.

Leading party figures have called for Scottish Labour to champion a new constitutional settlement involving a federal restructuring of the UK and the adoption of maximum devolution or ‘home rule’ in Scotland.

The elections to the Scottish Parliament came a year after it lost all but one of its MPs in the UK general election.

Picture courtesy of <p&p>photo

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