Reforms were passed at the Scottish Labour Party Annual Conference last Tuesday, giving the party greater autonomy and decision making power, as well as a seat on the UK National Executive Committee (NEC).
The package of reforms, which will give Scottish Labour more control over policy and the selection of candidates for elections, were approved ‘overwhelmingly’ at the conference in Liverpool despite concerns that Jeremy
Corbyn’s left wing allies would vote against it for fear it would cost the Labour leader influence on the NEC.
Kezia Dugdale, the Leader of Scottish Labour, expressed her intention to take the seat, giving her greater authority over party strategy and policy.
This has caused considerable anxiety amongst Corbyn’s supporters in Labour, as Dugdale previously confirmed support for Corbyn’s opponent Owen Smith in the party’s recent leadership election.
Corbyn won the election with the backing of over 60 per cent of Labour members, but fears still remain about his hold on the party. Dugdale’s addition to the NEC has sparked speculation that Corbyn will no longer possess a majority of support on the committee.
The reform was supported by much of the party’s left-wing, on the condition that Scottish Labour’s seat on the NEC be selected by party members, rather than selected by the party leader.
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie opposed this view, stating in The Guardian that, “the interests of the people of Scotland” should overcome “internal politics.”
The change comes at a crucial time for Labour who, in the 2015 general election, were reduced to one constituency in Scotland, and in May this year came third in the Scottish Parliament elections to the SNP and the Scottish Conservative and Unionist parties.
Scottish Labour figures have indicated a welcoming of the reform, believing it will give the party a louder voice within the Labour Party.
Labour’s only Scottish MP, Ian Murray, commented that it would help improve the party’s standing in Scotland by dispelling perceptions that Scottish Labour is merely a ‘branch office’ of the UK Labour party, according to The Scotsman.
Murray had previously warned that the rejection of these reforms would result in the ‘shutting down’ of Labour in Scotland, The Scotsman reports.
According to The Guardian, Dugdale mentioned now that the reforms have been passed, the party will be better fit to convey a “passionate voice for Scotland’s interests.”
She called Tuesday’s result a “key moment in the history of the party.”
Image: William M. Connolley