Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have set out their hopes for Scottish Labour to become a more autonomous party in a joint statement today – which you can read in full below.
Dugdale set out her initial plans in a piece for LabourList last night, and today insisted that the proposals for Scottish Labour to have more powers over policy and selections would not lead to a breakaway, independent Scottish party.
Both Dugdale and Corbyn said that this marked a “historic” moment for the party, with Corbyn adding that the move was a part of the “new kind of politics” that he promised to bring forward as leader.
In a joint statement, they said:
The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone.
Like the UK itself, the Labour Party is also a family of nations. We benefit from the solidarity that comes from working together as a movement across the whole of the UK.
The Labour Party in different parts of the UK already has unique identities and organisational structures, but we need to go further. The last Labour Government devolved so much power across the country, but we didn’t do the same with our party. That will change under our leadership.
We agree that Scottish Labour will become a more autonomous party.
We will ask Labour’s NEC, the Scottish Executive Committee and other bodies of the party to agree new arrangements that will deliver a more autonomous Scottish party and also more democratic institutions across the UK. As Labour develops its constitutional convention in Opposition to take account of the many things that must change to deliver a new kind of politics, so this approach must apply to our own party.
There will be co-operation between Scottish Labour and UK Labour on reserved policy areas.
This will be a major change in the way we operate and will put beyond doubt the fact that decisions about Scottish Labour will be taken by Scottish Labour.
The Scottish Labour Party will lead the way in the UK Labour Party becoming a more democratic organisation, so that we can benefit from being part of something bigger but also take more decisions at a local level. It will be for the Labour Party in other parts of the UK to bring forward proposals on how this would operate for them.
The Labour Party is proud of the fact that it is part of a UK-wide movement whilst devolving as much power as possible to the individual nations and regions. These bold new changes will create a party that is fit for the future, so we can transform the lives of people all across the UK.
Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour Leader
Jeremy Corbyn, UK Labour Leader
Kezia Dugdale also said that she did not want this to be a “Scottish-only solution” and hoped it would kickstart further devolution to regions and cities across the UK:
“This is a historic step for the Scottish Labour Party. I said Scottish Labour would change under my leadership and I meant it. This joint statement of intent signals one of the biggest changes in Scottish Labour history.
“Labour is the party of devolution but we didn’t devolve ourselves. We need to learn from our mistakes. This isn’t change for the sake of it. A Scottish Labour Party with more autonomy will make us fit for the future so we can do a better job of holding the SNP Government to account and, more importantly, to ask people to put their trust in us once again.
“Only when people in Scotland can see that we have changed will be able to put our values into action – to close the gap between the richest and the rest and to give every young person the best chance in life.
“I don’t want this to be a Scottish-only solution. I want this major package of reforms to kick start reform across the UK Labour Party. Friends in Wales and the English regions should see this as an opportunity for greater autonomy in their part of the country.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said part of his platform when running to be leader was that he wanted people to have “greater ownership over how decisions are made”. He said:
“When I was elected leader of the Labour Party I said I wanted a new kind of politics, where people had greater ownership over how decisions are made. That applies to the Labour Party just as much as it does to our country.
“This is a historic day for Scottish Labour. Kezia Dugdale is the boss in Scotland and I look forward to campaigning alongside her.”