kezScottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale MSP says in the face of Brexit the UK needs a new federal structure to prevent it breaking once and for all. Here is the full text of her speech at the IPPR in London today.

 

I want to begin by thanking you and everyone here at IPPR for inviting me to speak in London this morning.

IPPR has always been at the leading edge of progressive thinking in the UK. Many of the achievements of the previous Labour Government were developed and incubated here long before my party re-gained power after eighteen years in opposition. That’s why I’m so pleased that you have now set up in Edinburgh and that IPPR Scotland is flourishing under the leadership of Russell Gunson.

One of the lasting legacies of IPPR’s work in the early 1990s is the report of the Commission on Social Justice. Established at the instigation of John Smith, the report produced a blueprint for the incoming Labour Government in 1997. In John’s words, the Commission was set up to stop the waste of “our most precious resource – the extraordinary skills and talents of ordinary people.” It is still one of our party’s greatest tragedies that he never had the chance to see that vision put into practice.

IPPR’s new Commission on Economic Justice will, I hope, take inspiration from that work to provide some of the answers, and the blueprint, for how we tackle economic inequality in the UK and establish how prosperity can be shared by all who live in this country.

John Smith’s Commission is perhaps a good place to start this morning. In 1992, after thirteen years out of power, and after another crushing and unexpected General Election defeat, minds were focussed within Labour on how we could again win power. It was clear that while our values of equality, solidarity and tolerance endured, the solutions we needed were not the same as those when Labour was last in power in the 1970s, and neither were they to be found in the policies of opposition from the 1980s.

The Commission on Social Justice, in its introduction, described a UK transformed by three revolutions. An economic revolution brought about by increasing globalisation, innovation and a changing Labour market. A social revolution that had seen the role of women in society transformed, the traditional family model change, inequality ingrained and relationships between people in our communities strained. And a political revolution that challenged the centralisation of power, demanded more individual control and accepted a different role for Government in society.

Labour’s prospectus then was that the UK needed to modernise and change to meet the challenge of our time. That our policies had to begin with people’s lived experiences. And that we needed to respond to the demands of a population who were tired of the Tories, desperate for change, but were equally nervous about handing power to an untested opposition.

But above all else, it called for bold new thinking to challenge the orthodoxy on both the right and left, in order to meet the challenge of these three revolutions.

Over twenty years on, we are in a similar position, and the three revolutions of 1992 could equally be applied to the UK, and Scotland, today. Our economy, society and our politics have been transformed even further, but there is absolutely no consensus – no agreement – about the direction our country should take. What that has led to, in my view, is a society more dangerously divided than at any point in our recent history.

The public reject the status quo but there is no settled will about the direction we should take. And instead of grappling with the complex messages that people are sending us, and trying to find the solutions in the shades of grey, politicians of all parties are attached to solutions that are black or white, dividing us further. In short, we are trying to answer highly complex questions with simple answers.

Abraham Lincoln’s view that “revolutions do not go backward” finds evidence in what we have seen in Scotland, the UK and around the world in recent years. Anyone in Labour, or any party, who claims that we can sit on the margins and wait for politics to “settle down” will rightly be consigned to history. The future shape of the UK, how we govern ourselves and how our economy and society should develop is now the single biggest political question we face.

This morning I want to set out where the political fault lines lie in Scotland and the United Kingdom, why I believe we are so divided, but how the circumstances we find ourselves in – and the public appetite for change – means we have a significant opportunity to change our country for the better.

We have to first ask ourselves how we have reached where we are today. And let’s not be shy about this.  When David Cameron stood in Downing Street in February of this year and announced the date for the EU referendum, he did not foresee the political turmoil that was set to engulf him just four months later. But why didn’t he?

Many of us were shocked by the outcome of the EU referendum, but had also known for some time that it was going to be close. The resentment against the established ways of working has many roots. Think about the last decade. The financial crash of 2008. The MPs’ expenses scandal of 2009. The near endless crises that had engulfed every major national institution from the church to the BBC. All of these created a climate in which people across the country were angry and distrustful.

Endless austerity from the Tories punished the very people who already felt that Government was remote, out of touch and taking the country in the wrong direction. Working people on modest incomes saw their pay packets shrink and opportunities for their children diminish, but the only answer from the Government were more cuts and efforts to undermine many of the common bonds that have held our country together.

Looking back now, it is clear that a public reckoning was long overdue. The Tory’s victory in 2015 while bruising for my party was – with the benefit of hindsight – not much better for David Cameron. The Lynton Crosby playbook of divide and conquer delivered an election victory for Cameron, in the face of a plan for real change from Ed Miliband. But the Conservatives failed to return to Downing Street with any governing purpose, and with a country before them that was even more divided than before.

And if David Cameron had learned anything from Scotland in the previous five years, he should have recognised two things. The first was in the election of 2011. That was the election that returned me as a member of the Scottish Parliament. The night I was elected, I watched colleagues being swept away in a populist SNP landslide which sent a clear message to Labour. The lesson – right at the beginning of my time as an elected politician – was that there are no certainties in politics.

The second was the bruising and divisive independence referendum. It’s important to remember that we won decisively. It was our arguments about why we are stronger together – as part of a union – that swayed the hearts and heads of Scots. And more than two years on, those of us who fought for the UK shouldn’t be embarrassed about winning – we should be proud. Deciding to remain part of the UK was the right decision then, as it is now.

The people who should be embarrassed about what has happened since are the Tories. I was stunned when David Cameron walked out of Number Ten and immediately undermined everything we had achieved with his divisive comments on English Votes for English Laws. But we must never forget why we fought to save our United Kingdom.

I am proud – immensely proud – to have fought to keep the UK together in 2014. I was proud because it was a Labour argument I was making. The UK provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement, and it provides the protection for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger. Something good. Something worth fighting for.

But there is no escaping that the battle of two years ago has unleashed polarised constitutional politics that have changed Scotland forever.

Scotland’s experience – both in 2011 and in 2014 – was the canary down the mine for the rest of the UK, but instead of paying attention, too many people dismissed our plight as some sort of local difficulty. Too many politicians here in London thought that England was exempt. That nationality and identity were issues they didn’t need to worry about, and divisive constitutional politics did not apply. As we see the rising threat of UKIP in the North of England and the Lib Dems successfully taking advantage of the divisions of the EU referendum, it’s clear that this new fault line is here to stay.

Politics driven by nationalism and identity, which were for so long mostly confined to Scotland, have now taken their place firmly in the mainstream of all UK politics. So David Cameron’s legacy will be six wasted years which failed to deal with the consequences of the financial crisis and which cemented in Britain deep divisions which will take years to heal.

The popular revolt in England which culminated in the Brexit vote on June 23rd wasn’t just about immigration or identity or economic disadvantage. It was about all of those things and it was compounded by a sense that the system was broken, and then further fragmented by a Tory Government that was deaf to the needs of the vast majority. The Tories’ Brexit gamble has not paid off. And for Scotland, it has prevented any healing of the independence referendum divides.

The Tories – whether Ruth Davidson or Theresa May – are responsible for putting the Union at risk. There is simply no escaping the fact that it was the Conservative Party that stoked nationalism in England and, with Brexit, provided Nicola Sturgeon with the excuse she needed to reopen the constitutional debate. We are now faced with a Tory Government in Westminster which looks set to force hard Brexit on the whole of the UK. And an SNP Government at Holyrood which wants to exploit the divisions to win independence.

This is the position that the majority of Scots – the moderate, pro-union Scots and also many former yes voters find themselves in. More than ever, we have two governing parties in Scotland that are out of step with what the majority of people in Scotland want. Just two years ago, we decisively rejected independence, and we have rejected Brexit. Our settled will is to stay in the UK with a close relationship with Europe, which should mean access to the single market. But neither the SNP nor the Tories are proposing that. The Tories want Scotland in the UK and out of Europe, and the SNP want Scotland in the EU, but out of the UK.

Continuing to pull our country in each of these directions risks breaking the Union once and for all. Yet the prospectus for independence in 2016 is, in fact, far weaker than what was proposed in 2014. In the last referendum, the SNP wanted to break the political union, but their argument was that the economic union between Scotland and the rest of the UK could be maintained. In other words, we would continue trading freely, we would continue to use the pound and the Bank of England would continue with its role in Monetary Policy.

Today, we are faced with an SNP blueprint which would see us out of the UK single market, an uncertain future with Europe, the adoption of a separate Scottish currency and the need for the establishment of a new central bank. This would be an act of economic vandalism far greater than even Tory Brexit has handed us.

What is needed is a solution that meets the demand of the Scottish people. To be part of the UK and with a close and abiding relationship with Europe. At the same time renewing the UK for the new century, so the strain it is under from Tory and SNP nationalism does not ultimately destroy it.

For me, this starts with reaffirming our belief in the UK for the twenty first century. In 2014, I argued passionately for the UK because it is the single greatest force for redistribution we can have. I’m not blind, however, to how it has left many behind. As Andrew Haldane, the Chief Economist at the Bank of England, warned last week, the inequality gap between different regions of the UK has widened over time. Opportunities, prosperity and economic power are not being shared across the UK as they should be.

In much the same way, over time political power has become concentrated in too few hands. Power and wealth hoarded in one corner of our United Kingdom has not worked for the vast majority of people. In Scotland, the vision of devolution pushing power down to communities has been stalled and diluted by an increasingly centralising SNP Government.

That concentration of economic and political power, mixed with growing economic inequality and a feeling in communities that they have been left behind means the structures of our society are under strain like we haven’t seen in my adult lifetime. The economic, social and political revolutions I spoke about earlier now need to be met with bold and radical thinking about how we change the way we run our country and our economy.

While Brexit has led us into a period of instability and chaos, it also provides us with an opportunity to confront problems in our society and make lasting changes that have been long overdue.

Nothing about the Brexit vote has diminished my belief that we should be doing all we can to work together to meet the challenges that we face. I made the case for working together in the European Union for the same reasons that I argued to remain in the United Kingdom. Because I believe in the values of co-operation and solidarity – socialist values – and I believe that is best delivered through political and economic union.

The Act of Union of 1707 still underpins the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK. In fact, it forms part of the argument that the Scottish Government will be using this afternoon in the Supreme Court. Following the Tories’ Brexit gamble, we need a new Act of Union for this new century.

That is why the time has come for the rest of the UK to follow where Scotland led in the 1980s and 1990s and establish a People’s Constitutional Convention to re-establish the UK for a new age.

The convention should bring together groups to deliberate on the future of our country and propose a way forward that strengthens the UK and establishes a new political settlement for the whole of our country. This is a Convention that the Government should convene, and I have written to Theresa May today outlining Scottish Labour’s desire to see this happen. However, if the Government is not willing, as Gordon Brown has said, the opposition should convene a Convention.

Some may say this is unrealistic, but it would follow the model of the Scottish Constitutional Convention which, without Government support, established the basis for the settlement that delivered a Scottish Parliament in 1999.   It would also – for the first time – provide a coherent approach to answering the question of how our country is best governed.

While devolution has been positive for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we have to acknowledge that progress has been erratic and while there has been significant progress in some parts of the UK, other parts have been left behind. So I would not want the convention to just deliberate and report, but to produce a new Act of Union which would reaffirm the partnership between our nations and renew it for the future.

After more than 300 years, it is time for a new Act of Union to safeguard our family of nations for generations to come.

This would mean a radical reshaping of our country along federal lines where every component part of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions – take more responsibility for what happens in their own communities, but where we still maintain the protection of being part of a greater whole as the UK.

It would involve significant changes to how central Government operates. I have argued before, during my leadership campaign, that the House of Lords should be replaced with a Senate of the Nations and Regions. This would rectify the anomaly that sees unelected Parliamentarians having significant influence over our laws, and it would modernise the UK’s governance arrangements. I’ve also argued that it should be sit outside of London – showing people in the rest of the UK that central Government does not need to operate in one square mile, and that power is on the move.

Let me be clear. None of what I propose today undermines the central purpose of the UK – to redistribute wealth and resources within our union of nations. In fact, I believe it would save it. And this is why it matters. As we speak, Scotland has a £15 billion deficit in its public finances – a deficit that is even larger than the £11 billion of damage that the First Minister suggests could be created by Brexit. This would mean significant public spending cuts that would deal a direct blow to Scotland’s schools and hospitals, which are already in crisis under the SNP Government.

It would also not undermine the solidarity that comes from our common pensions and social protections – these are part of the bargain that come with being part of the UK. In short, it does not bear any resemblance to the Nationalists’ destructive proposals for Full Fiscal Autonomy.

All of these issues would be considered by the convention, but there are two immediate key areas which have arisen because of Brexit where I believe there is a strong case for Scotland to take control, and these are both lined to the responsibilities that will soon return from Brussels. The first are the powers over devolved areas such as fishing and agriculture. The UK Government is currently equivocating about whether these powers should be returned to London or to the devolved nations. Donald Dewar’s vision for devolution was that whatever is not reserved is devolved. These policy areas – clearly never reserved to the UK Government – should return to Scotland.

If co-ordination is required at a UK level, it would be for the Scottish Government to make the choice about how this happens, with the Scottish and UK Governments negotiating on an equal footing.

The second is the end of the application of the social chapter in the UK. This means that minimum labour standards will fall to Westminster to determine. Without any check or balance, a current – or future – Tory Government could diminish our rights at work even more, taking us to an even lower standard than we have today. In fact, many Tories are already suggesting this.

Just look at what has happened in the few years of Tory Government – employment tribunal fees hiked, denying access to justice for too many. The term for qualifying service has increased, meaning that it is two years until many employment rights come into force – making It easier to fire employees. And the Trade Union Bill – passed under Cameron – has restricted the ability of trade unions and other campaigners to organise, meaning that some critical checks on employers and Government have been lost.

Before Brexit, the guarantee of European law meant that our basic rights could not be undermined. If the Tories pursue hard Brexit this will no longer be the case. John Smith once accused John Major of wishing to turn Britain into the sweatshop of Europe and trying to compete with Taiwan on wages but not against Germany on skills. We cannot allow Theresa May to attempt the same now. That is why we need to look again at these protections and ask how our rights in Scotland are best guaranteed after Brexit.

My belief is that the responsibility for guaranteeing the employment rights of workers in Scotland should sit with the Scottish Parliament. The UK would set a minimum for the whole country on which Scotland could build if it chooses. In the same way, while the UK Government should continue to set a floor for the National Minimum Wage, it should be for the Scottish Government to determine the level in Scotland.

This settlement would provide the basis for a new federal Union for the 21st Century. One where, for Scotland, the maximum powers are in the hands of the Scottish Government, but where the UK Government continues to provide the safety net of social protection, to set minimum standards which the Scottish Government are able to choose to extend, and where redistribution is at the core off the UK’s mission.

I believe a new federal UK, with a strong Scotland able to carry forward a significant relationship with Europe,  is what people across Scotland have voted for. It goes far to meet the dual mandates of the Scottish people, and gives us the best possible protection for our jobs and our economy. That is why at on the first day of our Party Conference in Perth in February, I will ask the Scottish Labour Party to back this vision for a new Act of Union to establish a federal UK. This will restate Scottish Labour’s belief in the United Kingdom as a redistributive union and set a bold and radical new direction for Scotland and the UK.

This will be the culmination of work that I first spoke about in July, which the Scottish Shadow Cabinet endorsed in September and which I will ask our party members to back in February.

There can no longer be any doubt that the UK – and everything that progressives are fighting for – is in peril. The Tories are to blame for that, and Ruth Davidson must never be allowed to forget that it is her party that nurtured the divisions that Nicola Sturgeon thrives upon.

Our Union must be saved. We must heal our divided society. It is only Labour that can do that.

I am absolutely clear that what I have set out today – and what I will ask my party to back in February – is not an end. It is a means to an end.  It is the way we will meet Labour’s historic mission of tackling poverty, reducing inequality and providing opportunities for all. Few of us came into politics to wrestle with the constitution, but we all did so to try to influence and bring sense to the biggest issues of our day. Nationalism does not provide the answers for our time, and it falls to us to make that case.

The UK is in the middle of a historic moment in time that will determine the direction we take for a generation or more. If our ideas and values do not win out, the future of our politics is one of right wing populism and nationalism. I have never been clearer that this is the time for Labour’s values – values of solidarity, equality and co-operation.

This weekend, the winning candidate in the Austrian presidential election saw off a challenge from a far-right nationalist. The slogan he won under was “people who love their homeland don’t divide it.” I couldn’t agree more. The solutions our country need will not be found in the divisive politics of either the nationalists or the Tories.

It is time for a radical new settlement founded on ideas of the left. A settlement that can strengthen our divided country for a new age.  and re-affirm our belief that our society can only survive when we work together. A settlement that not only secures Scotland’s place in the UK but secures a bright future for the UK as a whole through a new stronger union fit for the 21st century.

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74 thoughts on “We must re-establish the UK for a new age

  1. At last some sign of progress from Labour on the constitution.
    But it doesn’t go far enough.

    1. Labour is now a nationalist party at a UK level.
    So there is no point in now pretending nationalism is a bad thing. Maybe it is realpolitik, but Labour no longer believes in campaigning to rejoin the EU or in redistribution across the EU. We have to pander to English nationalism. So let’s just call a spade a spade. If Labour won’t block article 50, then we could be dragged out the single market by default, no matter how much we want to remain.

    2. If Scottish Labour is going to embrace nationalism, then why not make it at a Scottish level ?
    There are 2 ways to get to a powerful federal UK. Working towards it in a piecemeal fashion. Or achieving Scottish sovereignty and working backwards to make agreements with the rest of the UK. A confederal solution of equal nation states. That is what the likely outcome of the 2014 referendum would have involved.

    The key point is ONLY Scottish sovereignty will give Scotland the power to make the most important decisions affecting our country. Such as making our own deals with Europe. I want Scottish Labour to put Scotland first at every opportunity, and take a lead for once. Working together with a UK Labour government we could have a ‘friendly independence’ and a confederal solution with a currency zone etc. The best of both worlds.
    Scotland has an chance to be more than just another Yorkshire.

    1. What’s that? An independence supporter saying that independence is the only answer? I’m gobsmacked. Honestly, I could never have predicted such a response from such quarters. Truly amazing.

      1. A confederal solution is a compromise between independence and union.
        It really would be a new kind of union, but one where Scotland had a real position of power, and really was an equal partner.

        We are ‘told’ we were an equal partner, but the Brexit vote has proved the folly of believing that, along with the UK government’s submissions to the article 50 case.

  2. Yes, constitutional politics is dull. Nonetheless, this is an important contribution to the debate which I know many on the left of the party, not least Neil Findlay MSP, will be glad to hear.

    It’s also good to hear Kezia giving a strong commitment to Scotland staying in the UK: “The UK provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement, and it provides the protection for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger. Something good. Something worth fighting for.”

    1. The problem is, Kezia starts with her commitment to the Union and then works backwards to find justifications for her position. She is basically a nationalist, though a British nationalist.

        1. No like you she is a fundamental Blairite. Her only commitment to public service is rhetorical lip service. Like your own.

          1. I doubt she’d call herself a “Blairite”.

            The party she leads is well to the left of the SNP. If she’s a Blairite, what does that make the SNP?

    2. ‘constitutional politics is dull’ Sure, who really cares about where power lies or who controls it? It’s not like that is important or anything!

      If this comment is representative of the Labour party in general, then heaven help them.

      Deciding how power is best shared between the government, parliament, local communities and individuals, so effective and appropriate decision-making can benefit the greatest number of people, should surely be one of the driving forces in progresive politics should it not?

      ‘The UK provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement, and it provides the protection for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger.’

      This is where Labour get themselves in a mess. The Scottish party is arguing for the protection of Barnett funding which gives Scotland an unfair disadvantage in higher than average public spending over Wales and poorer regions of England.

      In what way is that a commitment to UK wide redistribution of wealth based on who needs it most?

      1. Aye, take a look at what constitutional politics is doing to education in Scotland. Standards are falling in relative and absolute terms.

        In good years we pay into Barnett. In bad years we make withdrawals.

        1. I would agree Labour have a stronger record on education and health when they were in power, than the SNP.

          But I don’t think you can blame the independence referendum for falling standards in education.

          There was much more money available for public spending in 1999-2007 for starters.

          The amount of money we get from Barnett year on year compared to our tax revenue isn’t the issue, it is the fact Barnett isn’t based on need.

          If you genuinely believe in wealth redistribution, you would argue for a replacement funding formula that prioritises a higher spend for the poorest regions in the UK.

          At the moment, it looks like you are putting your electoral self-interest in Scotland above what is good for the poorer regions of the UK as a whole.

        2. We are forced to pay into Barnett every year and when was the last time the UK had a good year?
          Barnett is only possible because Scotland raises more in revenues than the Barnett formula returns. The rest of Scotlands revenues go towards our reserved commitments or they should but in reality they are used by consecutive UK Governments to pay for their ideological sometimes criminal endeavours both domestic and foreign.

        3. I have a son and 2 grandchildren in the school system at the moment.
          They are *vastly* better educated than I was at their age. My son is in S6 at the local high school, which has a very mixed catchment that includes most of the deprived areas of the town. He has 8 Nat 5s, 5 Highers and is currently sitting another 4 Highers.
          9 Highers in my day would have made you a genius.
          My granddaughter is in P7 at the local Primary. She can’t wait to get to the *big* school.
          My grandson has just started P1 in the same school and is loving it – Christmas party this week!
          All this talking down of our teachers and pupils is only telling a bit of the story.

        4. “That’s a great anecdote – you must be proud. Nonetheless, we know that education is falling in Scotland in relative and absolute terms.”

          Of course I am, but what I’m seeing is reflected across their peer groups.

          There are weaknesses, however. Key question then, how do you make the disengaged learn?

    3. The only redistribution of wealth that occurs in the UK is the redistribution from the 99% to the 1%. The wealth unbalance in the UK is well documented and reported. The North South divide a real tangible open sore.

  3. Scottish Labour has been a centralising British nationalist party for a century. Yet it was founded on the basis of Scottish Home Rule by Keir Hardie, who wanted Dominion Status for Scotland. Scottish Labour was forced in the 70’s, after a century of relative economic decline ( and after Heath’s proposed Scottish Assembly), by electoral realities to adopt the limited “devolution” model and to try and maintain its hegemony in Scotland. That was patently NOT what Scots wanted, and although Scottish Labour has fought tooth and nail against Holyrood gaining serious fiscal and economic powers (see the Smith Commission), it has only served to lose Scottish Labour further support.
    So where are we? The independence referendum was lost—but it was lost on the grounds of commitments made to the electorate which have not been kept.
    Membership of the EU was guaranteed, ONLY by a NO vote. Brown claimed a NO vote would bring “nearest thing to modern federalism” etc. Darling nodded his agreement to Bird’s claim of “Devo Max”. Brown has also waffled on about federalism—but no one listens to him any more.
    Kezia states that the referendum was won by the assertion that “we are stronger together” ( pooling and sharing) but then whines about the “opportunities, prosperity and economic power” not being shared across the UK”—she cannot have it both ways.
    The ironic thing is that a federal solution would have easily won the independence referendum, but is it now too late?
    How would Scottish Labour leverage this issue onto any political agenda? Why would people vote for it now? It looks as if the only new powers proposed are for fisheries and farming. Fishing access will certainly be in Spain’s shopping list for any Brexit deal, and farming will have a huge negative financial burden if the funding is cut from the EU formula to Barnett.
    Without serious fiscal and economic powers ( to grow our economy ) any proposed federalist solution is daft. Yes we have a deficit, but that has been incurred while our economy is being entirely run from London and we had huge tax surpluses flowing from the N Sea to the Treasury.
    If Westminster wouldn’t invest in Scottish industrial and social infrastructure while oil revenues were flowing, why would it do so now? —-And look at all the “big” investment programmes from the National Infrastructure Plan—they are ALL in the south of England.
    Westminster has stated Scotland would face a border with England if alone in the single market/ independent, while it is desperate to NOT have a border with the Republic of Ireland. Hardly a reward for the loyalty of generations of Scots, as opposed to a century of “the troubles” from Ireland.

  4. “I am proud – immensely proud – to have fought to keep the UK together in 2014. I was proud because it was a Labour argument I was making. The UK provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement, and it provides the protection for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger. Something good. Something worth fighting for”

    Spot on Kezia, absolutely spot on.

    1. She is also proud, no doubt, to be sitting at about 14% or so in the polls and helping to consign Scotland to governance by an increasingly right wing and xenophobic Toryism. Yaay for Kezia.

    2. Bedroom tax. Welfare cuts. Cuts to Scottish budget. Longannet. Cuts to renewable energy subsidy. Tax raising powers for Scotland not wealth creating. Scottish mps effectively banned from ever being leader or cabinet again with evel. Currency union falsely refused. Yes. All partnership working. Sharing resources and the idea that the union in its current form is a vehicle for wealth redistribution is pretty funny.

      1. The SNP are unable or redistribute wealth throughout the UK as they want independence.

        The Conservatives are unwilling to redistribute wealth throughout the UK as the want to keep it amongst their rich friends.

        ONLY the Labour Party is willing to redistribute wealth amongst all UK citizens.

        1. Why then defend Barnett funding which is unfair to Wales and regions in the North of England?

          Scotland is one of the wealthier parts of the UK outside of London and the South East.

          Surely if Labour is committed to redistributing wealth, we should have a funding package built on need and priority?

        2. So the SNP want to redistribute Scotland’s wealth throughout Scotland, not send it all down to Westminster just to get pocket money back – big deal.

          Redistributing wealth hasn’t happened in the past when Labour were in power at Westminster, so what are the chances of it happening now, considering you have little to no chance of being in power in the foreseeable future.

          1. Of course redistribution of wealth has happened in the past! The last Labour government lifted a million pensioners out of poverty, and halved poverty among families with children, through actions like tax credits and the New Deal. This delivered the biggest redistribution of wealth in the UK since world war two.

            Where do you people get off just throwing out false statements?

    1. Yes, it does. Your link does not show how much wealth is redistributed.

        1. Yeah, that’s the wealth distribution chart. It doesn’t show wealth REdistribution. That was my point.

          1. Given that the wealth distribution chart shows the top 2 deciles have 2/3 of all wealth, it doesn’t look like Kezia’s much vaunted UK redistribution is working

          2. It’s impossible to see whether it’s working without seeing the redistribution. Redistribution is about how the numbers are changed, not what the numbers are.

      1. … and, in reply, yours does. Oh wait a minute, you don’t refute that with figures at all. Oh dear, what a shame, too bad.

          1. Do you agree with Kezia that the UK’s redistribution of wealth to the top 2 deciles in society defines the entire Labour movement?

  5. I suspect this is the first response from Labour to the rising tide of English nationalism post-Brexit that has been slowly building since devolution, that begin to reach boiling point after the independence referendum and 2015 General election and is going to boil over in the run up to the 2020 General election.

    UKIP under Farage was largely viewed was a party of the South but if Paul Nuttal repositions the party towards targetting Northern seats, it could change the focus of the election campaign and seriously damage Labour’s slim chances of even closing the gap on the Conservatives.

    I don’t think first past the post will see UKIP winning more than a dozen or so seats at best UK wide.

    But despite their failure to make electoral gains, UKIP have a knack of changing the debate due to their popular support in newspapers and regular appearances on TV.

    If, as I suspect he will, Paul Nuttel decides to use scrapping the Barnett formula as an election issue, this could encourage the Conservatives to follow suit. Of course they already have their own high profile critics of Barnett, with Boris Johnson and Priti Patel influential figures in the post-Cameron Cabinet.

    In terms of any future Indy Ref II, at present the SNP still seem to have no proper plan about currency. But Scotland’s EU membership is no longer as potent a weapon for Unionists in defence of the UK.

    Barnett and Scotland’s high share of public spending is one of the most important arguments against independence. If UKIP turn it into an election issue and manage to spook the Conservatives into scrapping it, it could be fatal blow for any future campaign against independence.

    1. There are people in all UK political parties who already wish Barnett to be curtailed. I remember reading many years ago that services in Scotland cost 16% more to provide. I have no idea if this is still the case, but I doubt if that would influence the anti’s.
      It should be recalled that the Barnett settlement would already be gone if the Scottish government had not dug their heels in. It is due to be revisited in 2020 when Westminster may (or May) feel strong enough to blow Scotland off.
      By the time of the next UK election some of the Brexiteers birds will be coming home to roost. However that sense of economic and international isolation, backs to the wall stuff, might well reinforce the increasing English nationalist sentiment at Westminster which will not bode well for Scotland (given the “Scotophobia” already in evidence).

      1. “It should be recalled that the Barnett settlement would already be gone if the Scottish government had not dug their heels in.”

        Absolutely hilarious.

        The Scottish Government spent the years 2011 to 2014 campaigning for the Barnett Formula and every other bit of pooling and sharing across the UK to be ended for good. It was people like me who argued against people like you to retain it. And now your capacity for doublethink and dishonesty enables you to pretend that we were the ones wanting rid and your precious SNP were the defenders of it? I would laugh if I wasn’t already weeping.

        And incidentally, the SNP campaigned and argued for Full Fiscal Autonomy in 2015! You realise that Full Fiscal Autonomy means the end of Barnett?

        Honestly you people are a disgrace to politics.

        1. So, A—- when Barnett goes Scottish Labour will be happy when everyone gets the same funding? Outside London, that is.
          B. Barnett only covers a % of UK State spending. The non-Barnett element is slanted heavily against Scotland ( defence procurement/spending etc).
          C. I have no doubt Scotland is in a fiscal hole. Why? Because our economy is run from Westminster. Unlike all the other small countries round this part of Europe, which are thriving. And most of them haven’t been sitting on a major oil field.
          You cuddle up in your wee sookie Britnat comfort blanket, but beware—-Treeza is about due to rip it off you. Pathetic!

          1. Hello? Scottish Labour has argued consistently to KEEP Barnett. The SNP has argued consistently to THROW AWAY Barnett. And you are trying to make the loss of Barnett into something you blame us for? Get out. Just get out.

          2. “Scottish Labour has argued consistently to KEEP Barnett”—really? Margaret Curran and her ilk?
            Didn’t Scottish Labour vote for Owen Smith—who is against Barnett, like the Welsh Labour party.
            As you are a “branch office”, wont you have to adhere to the actual Labour line, which by 2020 will want Barnett stopped ( as many Labour people at Westminster and in English local government do RIGHT NOW ), just as Labour have caved on just about every issue Treeza has wanted them to.

            Scottish Labour have the consistency of thin jelly.
            The Scottish Labour default position now seems to be—follow the Ruthiecult—– just a few months later.

        2. Scotland’s higher public spending I believe is in some part due to the higher cost of delivering services in remote rural and Island communities and this of course should be protected.

          But I think the cost of abuse of alcohol and drug abuse, obesity, smoking and our historical culture towards violent crime is adding a huge burden to the public purse here.

          The Scottish Government estimates the following costs in terms of loss to our economy in terms of productivity, tax revenue and cost to public services caused by the following every year:

          Alcohol misuse: £3.5 billion
          Drug misuse: £3 billion
          Obesity: £4 billion
          Smoking: £1 billion
          Repeat reoffending: £3 billion

          To their credit, Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP have introduced or tried to introduce policies like the smoking ban in public places and limitations on tobacco advertising, a presumption against short term prison sentences and minimum unit piricing for alcohol that might address some of these problems.

          But all of Scotland’s political parties currently have a huge hole in their economic policies because none of them have a credible plan to get Scotland’s deficit under control.

          Labour and the Lib Dems are probably the least guilty because they at least had the sense to suggest raising income tax at the last election.

          They are still both miles off the curve though. A 1p rise in income tax would only raise an extra £500 million, which would still leave a deficit of some £14.5 billion. By limiting the power of the Scottish Parliament over tax revenue to mainly income tax, we would have to raise income tax by an eye watering 10p in the pound to make a serious dent in our deficit.

          It seems like Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems think that sitting back and shrugging their shoulders and effectively saying ‘everything is fine, London will always pick up the tab for Scotland’s deficit’. Personally I think they are in for a bit of a shock in 2020 when Barnett is reviewed.

          If the economic predictions about Brexit are as bad as some suggest, I can’t see voters in other parts of the UK being happy to see Scotland still maintain our current high spending levels, while they see their own local services slashed.

          It comes down to fairness as well and the cohesion of the different UK populations. The North of England and Wales lose out under Barnett and their GVA per head of population is consistently lower than that of Scotland. Scotland is one of the more productive and wealthier regions of the UK, outside of London and the South East.

          So we are not even ‘pooling and sharing’ properly or fairly according to the regions most in need.

          Scotland needs to start contributing to a deficit reduction plan that will in turn reduce the burden on the UK’s deficits and huge levels of debt.

          We need to do this in as fair way as possible, to protect those at the bottom.

          Personally I think we could scale back the defence footprint in Scotland for a start.

          As an industry and an employer, too many communities in Scotland have been subsidised by spending money on regiments and MOD facilities as a job creation scheme, that are largely relics of the Cold War or even further back in history than that, as opposed to their strategic importance.

          The UK Government’s announcement to start closing 8 out of 22 bases and facilities in Scotland is a welcome step in the right direction.

          We need to then give communities more autonomy and local taxation powers to keep the revenues for industries in these areas, like renewable energy, agriculture, fishing, food and drink and tourism.

  6. The usual deluded nonsense from a party, nay a branch office, that should have taken out back like a dying family pet, whacked with a shovel, and buried with the neeps in the back garden, long ago…

    That Dugdale can wheel out these proposals with a straight face speaks volumes.

    I’ve been listening to this guff from Labour since 1979. If I’m lucky enough to live until 2079, I’d lay long odds that I’d still be hearing this nonsense.

    For as long as Labour die hards continue to do their Monty Python Black Knight impression, and wheel out guff about bus drivers in Aberdeen standing shoulder to shoulder with aromatherapists in Aldershot, nothing will change…

    Meanwhile, the Tories will continue to run Scotland into the ground, and Labour will be there with them, playing the role of useful idiots. It was ever thus…

    1. They think we forget Smith going through the commons and all the powers labour MPs voted against… powers that Kezia is trying to punt to us today. And fisheries and agriculture are not reserved so “giving us” something by not reserving it is not exactly great, is it?

      “Just two years ago, we decisively rejected independence, and we have rejected Brexit.” Forgive me if I am wrong but surely she has that the wrong way round, no? Therein lies a problem in her perception.

      This year and last year, the Scottish people rejected labour more decisively even than brexit. You would not know this by the tone of the piece- zero reflection on why that may be the case.

      You always get the impression from Scottish labour politicians that it is the voters fault- ‘they just don’t get it’. Then slab setup one of these big media splashes where we get a relaunch or another federalism/home rule/devo-max wheeze. There is not a whiff that the promises of the past turned into dust, trampled into the floor of the No lobby in the house of commons. Have they forgotten? Gordon Brown will be along anytime now to give his vision… and will be treated by sensible Scots with the contempt he deserves.

      There is another line that I found unbelievable: “the central purpose of the UK – to redistribute wealth and resources within our union of nations.” That highlights why she is unfit for office: to project this pure fantasy on the UK is laughable. Unless she means redistributing wealth from working people into the 1% in which case it is well on track.

      Just imagine the cabinet sitting down with Theresa kicking off: “right- who can we help today?” Hammond begins by writing “Redistribution of wealth” down on a white board in big letters. Followed by roars of laughter.

  7. It’s embarrassingly obvious that both Dugdale and Davidson have to travel south to speechify—–presumably as UK political journalists wouldn’t travel north to record their words.
    This reflects their weaknesses as minor political figures who serve their respective interests north of “the north”.
    So we should expect little to result from the Dugdale/Brown plan.
    The Tories can win Westminster elections entirely in England.
    Labour, in its present state, appear doomed to irrelevance —-south as well as north.
    Indeed Scottish Labour, by their promulgated British nationalism, justify whatever the Tories do in regard to Scotland.
    Useful idiots, indeed!

  8. YEH, that’s just what we need another fucking new “Act of Union”, another 300 years of allowing another country to run your country, because you don’t have the balls to do it yourselves.

  9. at last a clearly thought out plan for where Scottish Labour needs to go. the first analysis of why we ended up with brexit. I have seen from a party leader well done keep it up

  10. What a brand new version of super duper Devo Max extreme with frills and sage stuffing this time?

    A brand new absolutely convincing nae kidding Jimmy Aye ye’ll get yer money am telling ye its in the post Vow?

    Well I’m convinced and so’s my wife.

  11. “That is why at on the first day of our Party Conference in Perth in February, I will ask the Scottish Labour Party to back this vision for a new Act of Union to establish a federal UK. This will restate Scottish Labour’s belief in the United Kingdom as a redistributive union and set a bold and radical new direction for Scotland and the UK.”

    Everyone involved in the Scottish Labour Party, from the leadership, to our representatives and membership will surely fully back and support the above Act of Union.

    When endorsed by our Party conference next February, Scottish Labour will have every right to expect unconditional support, commitment and backing from the leadership down, in the British Labour Party, for this new Act of Union.

    This will then be the undisputed policy position that we fight the next General Direction from.

    There will be no sweetheart deals with the SNP.

    Do you hear that Clive Lewis? Have you got that Paul Mason?

    No deals. not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

    Do you get it now?

    Unity is strength.

    1. Except it all comes with no credibility and a past record of non delivery of promises and vows. Labour delivered all the Devolution it wanted to in 1999 and that position hasn’t changed.
      The Steel commission the Calman commission the Smith commission. How many times has Labour had the chance to deliver real Devolution and delivered nothing instead?
      Labour has been the most reluctant of all the parties to deliver powers to the Scottish Parliament. Devo Nano minus.
      No Andy that ship has sailed along with any chance of a Labour comeback in Scotland.

    2. Will your Labour party still have a “sweetheart” deal with the SDLP, as you have for the last four decades?
      The SDLP, a N Irish nationalist party. The party which brought down Callaghan’s government. The party which wants to be independent of Westminster. Labour’s partners.

      “When endorsed by our Party conference…..unconditional support….British Labour…new act of Union”—what, like they supported your Party conference decision on Trident?
      Where do Scottish Labour people live? In a bubble?
      Why do they believe this utter pish?

    3. What happens if the Scottish Labour Party Branch Office vote for this policy and the Labour Party UK vote against it at the Labour Party UK conference.

      1. “What happens if the Scottish Labour Party Branch Office vote for this policy and the Labour Party UK vote against it at the Labour Party UK conference”

        Good question Ted.

        There are people within both the Scottish & the wider UK Labour party that do not want this deal as cast iron policy.

        These people have their own agenda, which involves selling out Scottish Labour and doing deals with the SNP.

        I suppose they are going to take the “hump” over this issue.

        What a shame.

        1. Will Labour still do a “deal” with the SDLP, while selling out Scottish Labour ?
          You know, the N Irish Nationalists?
          Just wondered?

          1. I don’t know about that Gavin.

            What I do know is that there are people within the Labour Party itching to do a deal with the SNP and sell out Scottish Labour.

            The new Act of Union proposal will upset our 5th columnists. Kezia Dugdale, to her credit, has thrown a major spanner into their works.

            The only avenue left for the SNP to gain independence was through the Labour Party. Hence; all you nationalists being absolutely fixated with this “totally irrelevant” Scottish Labour blog/forum.

            However badly we do at next year’s council elections, the Act of Union policy will have already been adopted at our conference. The dyes will have been already cast.

            The UK Labour Party will then be obliged to follow suit in due course.

            Because; as we all know……

            Unity is strength.

            Oh happy days.

        2. Except Labour in Scotland would rather do deals with the Conservatives in the rUK than the people of Scotland.
          Would rather see a Conservative Tory Government in power across the UK than an Independent Labour Government in Scotland.
          That’s what you call selling out Andy.

  12. The Labour Party have always blocked any new powers for Scotland both in and out of government so why would anybody believe this desperate attempt by Dugdale to avoid the Yes/No question to Scotland’s Independence, the majority of Scotland’s electorate are split between the SNP and Tories and have a clear choice there and so the Dugdale tactic of its not a mibby Aye or a mibby naw its I am stuck in the middle is a dead Duck.

    1. What an extraordinary piece of dishonesty. The Labour Party is responsible for almost all of the powers currently available to the Scottish Parliament, having delivered the original Scotland Act in 1998, and helped deliver the second one in 2012, as well as pushing for more powers in the Scotland Act 2016.

      1. Come on Duncan, don’t forget labour actively blocking powers such as control of minimum wage and full devolution of welfare during the Smith commission talks.

        And of course no-one is going to forget labours very active role in blocking the 54 amendments for more powers for the “Scotland Act” in the Westminster debate last year.

        In-fact Duncan, labours role in the 2016 Scotland Act has been to actually do everything they can to reduce powers to Scotland.

        “dishonesty thy name is hothersal”.

        1. This dishonest caricature of the Scotland Act process is very common among nationalists. You all seem to get your grievance fake news from the same sources. Did you even notice that Labour brought more amendments for additional powers? Or that some of the key ones Labour agreed with the SNP on? Or even that a number of the amendments were brought back by the government and passed after the Committee stage? Or are you going to stick to the complete nonsense suggestion that all the proposed amendments were knocked back?

          1. Your problem Duncan is you think you can pull the same stunt as you tried to do a couple of weeks back when labour abstained from the vote on the single market.

            You stick a silly amendment on the motion then try to claim you have done the opposite of what you actually have done.

            But you keep forgetting everyone has seen what you and labour actually have done, we saw what the labour MP’s did during the actual debate for the Scotland Act, their were pictures, everyone was speaking about it.

            We don’t forget, spin it as much as you want. We don’t forget.

          2. Your problem Davy is that your recollection of the actual debate for the Scotland Act is of what was reported by nationalists at the time, a concerted effort to stoke grievance. Did you even know that Ian Murray *alone* proposed more amendments in the tax and welfare section of the bill than the entire SNP cohort did? Did you bother to read up on how parliamentary process works, that many amendments voted down at Committee stage can then be brought back as government amendments, and that is what happened here? Did you bother to check what happened AFTER the great grievance reporting frenzy of the Committee stage?

            “Everyone was speaking about it.” Quite.

          3. All the amendments made are listed on the bill page at:

            http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/scotland/documents.html

            Scroll down to ‘Amendment documents” and look at the ones in the House of Commons rather than the Lords. You’ll find pages and pages of amendments from Ian Murray.

            This list also includes the government amendments which were brought forward to take up what opposition parties had proposed. You can see, for example, in the marshalled list of 9 November 2015 the government amendment NC12 to insert a new section 1 to assert the permanence of the Scottish Parliament, as called for in an SNP amendment at committee stage which was backed by Labour.

            The problem is it is easy for people like Wings, or The National, or random tweeters like SNP MPs, to choose to misrepresent this process, to claim that all amendments were blocked, to ignore the reality of the parliamentary process and instead put across a story which is dishonest but suits their narrative.

  13. How are labour going to get the north of England to federalise , when they have already tried twice to get the voters in England to vote for region-control and both times the vote was NO. Its pie in the sky bolloxs, England doesn’t need to federalise it already has control of the UK, why would they give that control away willingly.

    Is Scottish labour that dumb, that they actually think their party down south is going to dance and cheer away their power and control in Westminster and give it to the branch office.

    WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, you have only one MP, and you will be lucky to keep him next election.

    You simply don’t count, and even better your leader Jeremy Corbyn knows most of you tried to stab him in the back in the labour leadership election, and you were daft enough to sign your names on a petition to do it, so he knows who you are.

    So why should he back you in anything that could possibly reduce his power. DUH.

  14. Duncan, was Ian Murray actually there the day of the debate on the Scotland Act, and were his “amendments” actually debated on , the same day that labour voted against the 54 amendments the SNP put forward ?

    Because I am sure everyone has noticed how you have tried to slip in “at committee stage” regarding “amendments” in your last comment.

  15. Alec Salmond when he got a narrow majority in my opinion was forced by circumstances to call the referendum. he setout a campaign timescale that was that long that by the end people were sick of it. I voted remain because I did not want to break up the uk. when the ref was called I spoke to two full time SNP party workers. they while they believed in indy did not believe they would win when asked whv no evidence the people want it. I on the other hand thought it was doable . the timescale should have been 1 month the pros and cons could have been put to the people and we would have voted. if Alec had done that he might have won. if it had been won I would not have complained I would have done everything to make it work. so the campaign starts I was helping my local party by phoning every night. from day one people had a right good go about everything under the sun and I tried to stay calm did it most of the time. some people were strongly for others strongly against most at the start would not say. then we started to see on tv both sides doing what I called cardboard city events. rent a crowd and it was the same people holding up posters and some politician smiling at a baby. I also found out while phoning people who were English were being told to go home. I was on the phone at the same time as nat canvesers were at the door arguing because the householder would not say how he was voting. the householder would then give me an earful and they would not tell me either. a lot of the people I phoned were waiting for the tv debates to try and get answers .does not appear to have worked to mutch arguing. I would rather see party leaders be submitted to tough Paxman style questioning . all I have commented on are my views not the Party every time one expert said one thing another one said something else .that was a problem .in the end through talking to hundreds of people I have come to the conclusion in the end people decided to stay with the uk. it did not matter what any politician said people were worried about pensions their jobs the NHS and their families . they did not care what either side claimed. now we have the NATS National conversation I got a card no survey no tel contact no a diagram with a finger pointing at an envelope. I think it was a device to see of demands for a new ref from all those new members. I also think that Kezia Dugdale is growing in confidence ie proposing a federal Britain and the rail fare freeze proposal . the FM agreed to consider it but why did she not propose it .in the end it does not matter what we Party members think or say should happen. its what the voters think and want and we all need to remember it

  16. “As Andrew Haldane, the Chief Economist at the Bank of England, warned last week, the inequality gap between different regions of the UK has widened over time. Opportunities, prosperity and economic power are not being shared across the UK as they should be.”
    “The U.K. provides the redistribution of wealth the defines our labour movement…….”
    You’ll need one of your classic backflips to get out of that contradiction.

  17. “The party she leads is well to the left of the SNP. If she’s a Blairite, what does that make the SNP?”

    Really? Except she doesn’t lead a party does she?
    But according to you a party that supports Trident renewal, means testing benefits, Tuition fees, expanding the House of Lords, Membership of the house of Lords, Warmongering, targeted austerity, Welfare cuts, Privatisation of public services, cutting out the 10p tax rate is politically left of a party that doesn’t.

    I was wrong you’re not a fantasist you’re a haver.

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