Labour must lead the charge for sharing power

kezIn advance of Saturday’s Labour Hame federalism debate, Kezia Dugdale MSP says it’s time for Labour to fulfil our promise of a People’s Constitutional Convention to help share power more fairly across the UK.


Just over one year ago, I travelled to Cardiff for a meeting with Gordon Brown, John Prescott, First Minister Carwyn Jones, and Shadow Cabinet spokesperson Jon Trickett to discuss Labour’s support for a more federal union.

The meeting was the culmination of months of work in the party, including a historic vote at Scottish Labour’s conference in February in support of federalism.

Our message was clear: moving political power from Whitehall wasn’t just a constitutional convenience, but an economic necessity.

A few days after the Cardiff meeting, I was preparing to launch Scottish Labour’s council election campaign in Edinburgh when Theresa May stepped out of Downing Street and announced she was going to the country.

Not surprisingly, the federalism taskforce took a back seat as our party came together to increase the number of Labour MPs from Scotland in the hope of sending Jeremy Corbyn to Number Ten.

But our manifesto – For the Many, Not the Few – was unambiguous:

“A Labour government will establish a Constitutional Convention to examine and advise on reforming of the way Britain works at a fundamental level.”

It continued:

“The Convention will look at extending democracy locally, regionally and nationally, considering the option of a more federalised country.”

We lost the general election, and we remain in opposition. But that is no excuse for shelving our plans for a People’s Constitutional Convention.

We know that the Labour Party is a broad church – it’s one of our greatest strengths. Yet what unites those of us who may disagree on some things is the desperate need for reform in our country.

Not tearing the UK apart as the SNP would do, nor grabbing powers for Westminster as the Tories are doing. It is not our union of nations which is intrinsically unjust or unfair, nor the European Union; it’s the actions of the powerful within it.

Economic power has to be devolved to our communities and that means more political control in every nation of the UK. Power hoarded in Westminster and Whitehall – or even Holyrood – is no longer tenable.

We are proud of our radical roots in Labour, and today we tell the public we are more radical we have been for years. Yet we are failing to make the argument that Labour’s founders of devolution once made about how to use powers to change the lives of people across our country.

Every single part of the UK need access to economic levers to deliver local growth if we stand a chance of building a strong economy and raising living standards.

One of the main criticisms of federalism is that it’s a word which means little to the ordinary voter. I get that. Of course it will never resonate on the doorsteps in the way our NHS does.

But how many voters listed ‘devolution’ as their principle political policy in the 1980s or 1990s? That didn’t stop Labour delivering the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly and few would suggest we ever go back to the way things were.

I also accept that how to define federalism is another conundrum for those of us who want power to be distributed more evenly. As leader, I said our devolved parliaments and assemblies should have more power over guaranteeing our employment rights and protection, and I believe the time has come for more regional and national control of our immigration system.

As for England, it is not Scottish Labour’s place to suggest what is best for the regions. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. That’s why we proposed a People’s Constitutional Convention, as this is something that must carry the support of the people, not just the politicians.

But it won’t happen without political leadership. And, as always, that will fall to the Labour Party.

It’s time to dust off our party’s plans for a People’s Constitutional Convention. I’m delighted that Mark Lazarowicz, Ian Murray and others are leading a fresh charge for this at this weekend’s Labour Hame event. I know Richard Leonard, who played a key role in the delivery of the Scottish Parliament, stands with us.

It is only the Labour Party which can restore trust between governments and the governed, and ultimately deliver a new federal settlement that brings political and economic power closer to the people we represent.


You can still reserve your place at Saturday’s event in Edinburgh by visiting Federalism and more – a Scottish Labour debate. Make sure you join the debate.

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9 thoughts on “Labour must lead the charge for sharing power

  1. “Our devolved parliaments and assemblies should have more power over guaranteeing our employment rights and protection”

    Do you think Scotland has forgotten labours part in the disgraceful “Smith Commission” debacle, when labour did everything it could to deny our devolved government more powers. Or when labour voted hand in hand with the Tories & Libdems down at Westminster against every amendment proposed to improve further powers for Scotland in the “Scotland Act.

    Trust Labour ??? nae chance.

  2. Well Davy you could not resist it another Labour bad piece you forgot to mention When the Labour party activists like me campaigned for devolution in the 80s .we had to convince a sceptical public we were right . Alec Salmond has said he had to get it past a hostile SNP conference when Labour won the General election it was Tony Blairs Labour Government that gave us a referendum and actively campaigned for it We introduced proportional representation never done before in Britain So don’t give us the trust Labour nae chance act.
    Kezia Federalism its to late I don’t think there is any enthusiasm for it anywhere now and certainly not in England and I mean the people not the Government .
    Maybe at the conference you could also discuss the NHS jobs takeovers and mergers and also the so far ignored scourge of online banking and online shopping which is costing jobs not to say brexit maybe invite Nigel Farrage to speak on that .
    Kezia Davy I am sure you will be interested to learn I had another e mail published in todays National p27 this is it Whatever the turnout on Saturday it was one helluva result . If 35 thousand at least turned out then politicians of all parties better take notice . At least accept a lot of people are not happy .
    Nicola the pressure is also on you .What are you going to say .And what if she says no.
    The marchers are mainly your supporters and they want another referendum soon.
    Great paper the National Kezia why don’t you with the parties permission do a weekly column in it or better still get Richard to do it. although you would be speaking to people who claim to be opposed to your views

    1. Well “david” I also was around in the 80’s, and I also remember Blair’s ‘parish council’ and how our devolved government system was designed not to give any party a majority. (but we buggered that).

      I also remember and voted in the 1979 referendum, you know the one, where we won the vote but got stuffed by a labour (40%) amendment. I notice you didn’t mention that.

      What’s next ? are you going to remind us labour introduced the NHS, already heard it.

      The labour leadership is now dancing around shouting “federalism , federalism” , like it is the second coming. Even you don’t believe that, and yet its too hard for labour in Scotland to stand up for Scottish independence. Instead its just another load of deceit and deception, disguised as ‘federalism’.

      Just typical Labour with typical deceit, why should Scotland trust you ?, try checking your recent history you have done nothing to deserve it.

  3. “It is only the Labour Party which can restore trust between governments and the governed, ”

    I nearly fell of my chair when I read the above l recollect the famous VOW that power’s would be delivered to Scotland if they voted NO and stayed in the Union.

    There seems to be a bit of a problem at the moment with the Tories keeping some of the powers returning from the EU with the support of Labour at Westminster another broken promise will affect how well Labour do in future elections because of a lack of trust it could be grim.

  4. Hello again 007
    Thanks for your comment yes I do remember 79 and the 40 per cent but I also remember It was Blairs Government with Dewar and Salmond working together who got devolution past a lot of sceptical people in their parties . Its not independence we have to defend Nicola took that of the table and has yet to make up her mind whether to play that card again .
    Trust we now know that the respective party leaderships and I mean Kezia and Nicola had a little private deal over Brexit struck in the early hrs of the EU result SNP keep Labour in the loop over negotiations with UK government over Europe and Labour would give them a free hand .
    I hope the daft name calling like calling the SNP a cult in another Blog stops it has to
    Because I want the parties to work together with others to protect the Scottish Parliament .If to do that private understandings need to be made do it .
    I am thinking about voting Indy if there is another vote but right now on some issues we should in my view work together .
    Like I think we need to mobilize to campaign against the scourge of online banking online shopping .Thousands of job loses at Jaguar BT and others huge take overs and mergers that affect us and those decisions are being taken in China India and the USA not a single cheep have I seen from our leaders why have we not been called out onto the streets on this
    We need to unite on things like this the parties can and will fight each other on plenty but to defend the parliament and devolution we need to show a united front and do something on the jobs front

  5. Was on a bus today going past Cross house Hospital when I saw a sign with this very large logo SCOTCH BEEF FROM WALES
    Any comments happy days haha

  6. 2 Things I cant attend the anti austerity events on Saturday due to ill health .
    But I have the email saying Jeremy and Richard will be campaigning in Glasgow tomorrow .
    I hope everyone at the Federalism event will join them or find a local event .
    I have an ill health retirement Wednesdays PMQS started at 12noon .
    I phoned the DWP at 1205 pm 33mins later an operator answered the phone .And that’s quick for them .
    I had a form to go back to Glasgow via Wolverhampton .
    The reason it gets scanned into the system at Wolverhampton .
    Its going first class I posted it on Tuesday the operator I got said phone back next Tuesday to see if its in the system. Great .Maybe once Dundee and Glasgow are up and running we can do something about this

  7. Peoples constitutional convention – is exactly that a con – a red herring to stop Indy

    When will you learn – don’t you realise your part of Scotland’s Stasi

    Scottish Labour party members / politicians – reporting dissidents to MI5

    Labours real motto

    Keeping you poor – controlling people through poverty

    Am a Clydesider – please don’t argue with me

  8. With respect – remember years ago I was walking along up the High Street

    You’d just come out of the Parly.

    I had longish brown hair – you seen me and thought – he’s looks like one of our voters

    Looks alright – but am gay (Years before it was made public)

    I looked at the Parly building and seen pigeons – I thought.

    The most expensive pigeon loft in the world – I laughed. You noticed me laughing – remember.

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