Thursday, September 22, 2016

Convincing the public, convincing the members, Scottish Labour autonomy reforms blasted as 'cosmetic' as Kezia Dugdale signals "the biggest changes to how Scottish Labour is run in a generation", the proof will be whether Labour members will come out for the party for the 2017 Council Elections

Dear All

The Scottish Labour Party is said to be in the process of being ‘fully autonomous’ within the Labour Party.

Do you remember when the members had a vote to see if they wanted this move to take place?

I don’t and I am a member, when I say I am a member, I mean I pay the party money for a membership, but haven’t attended a CLP meeting during my entire time as none have taken place.

In fact I have to say I haven’t felt very welcome since I was put into the Pollok CLP, so prior to going along I looked them up and found this article.

When I did my first day with the CLP it was at Govan Cross, the Sun was shining, it was 14th November 2015; the Tax Credit was on the go. I found the event on the Scottish Labour Party event page so popped along. I didn’t expect a warm welcome as a new member and to no surprise I didn’t get it, after being given some leaflets by a councillor I handed them out to the public. The SNP turned up and managed to get the Labour Party to stop campaigning because of the Paris attacks, what happened is that the SNP did a picture op with the Labour Party and I was the only member of the party to be not asked and excluded.

When I ran out of leaflets I wandered over to be told that the Labour Party had decided to stop campaigning but no one could be bothered to cross the street to tell me this, the ‘event’ such as it was lasted circa 19 minutes.

First impressions count, and I wasn't impressed, an event lasting 19 minutes which I gave up an entire morning to attend.    

The Holyrood election was on the 5th of May 2016, it is now the 22nd of September, for nearly 5 months the Pollok CLP has done nothing in the way of campaigning in the Pollok area. During the Holyrood election, I found out again to no surprise that out of circa 220 members, about 95% of them didn’t turn up to do activism for the candidate Johann Lamont.

She lost rather badly; it could have been much worse however I ended up doing Govan myself, when I asked who was doing Govan, a former Labour heartland I was told no one. I took the decision to do it myself so that as wide an area could get covered.

The move towards Scottish Labour getting autonomy reforms has been hailed as putting Scottish Labour on track but others view the move as  'cosmetic', what good is autonomy when the activist base has collapsed?

Will more people come out and be activists because of this move?

The party's National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed that it will be handed control over policy, constituency parties and candidate selections for Westminster, this might worry supporters of Jeremy Corbyn in Scotland as the party is seen by some to be led by the right wing of the party.

When Johann Lamont resigned as Scottish leader in 2014, she said that the Scottish Party was being treated like a "branch office from London", the flare up was the removal of Scottish General Secretary Ian Price, were being taken by bosses in London without input from her.

Many people have commented that there is no such as the Scottish Labour Party, that is true, the Labour Party is registered with the electoral commission but not a separate Scottish Party.

Kezia Dugdale has said that the planned move is "the biggest changes to how Scottish Labour is run in a generation."

Previously, Jim Murphy with her as his deputy said that he had ‘fixed’ Scottish Labour, and promptly led the party to the worse defeat in about 100 years, all Westminster seats bar one held by the party wiped out.

I have little faith in claims made by people who have to keep saying they have ‘fixed’ the party repeatedly.

How many goes does it take to get it right?

Holyrood 2016, pushed Labour into third place by the Tories, a lot of that was based on Kezia Dugdale’s misstep by saying she could vote for independence, this was to try and win back Labour voters from the SNP that backfired; she didn’t get them back and lost many Unionist Labour voters as well.

An interesting thing popped up on the radar regarding the lack of funding from Labour donors.

If the voters have deserted the party, if the members aren’t willing to be activists and if the Labour donors don’t want to give donations, does anyone serious think that being ‘fully autonomous’ within the Labour Party is the solution to the problems.

Ms Dugdale said:

"I’m pleased to say that we have the agreement of Labour’s NEC for our autonomy proposals. These will be the biggest changes we’ve seen to how the Scottish Labour Party is run in a generation. It means Scottish Labour is now on track to become fully autonomous within the UK Labour Party."

Some people have concerns that the NEC seat is a ploy to have a built in anti Corbyn majority but I am wondering if the move to being ‘fully autonomous’ is in fact the gearing up towards federalism in the UK further down the line.

Either way I doubt the changes mean anything significant at grassroots level with members who will continue to act as they see fit on whether or not they wish to involve themselves in elections.

My experience in Pollok CLP is that if you want an event to start on time, have the job done properly then best to pre-plan it all out, and then do it yourself, otherwise you might end up being treated like you are a fucking arsehole and be left standing in the street 30 minutes past the start time.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University  


Anonymous said...

having read your account of how things work down your way, I would just do a runner George and let them sink, find a party which needs your obvious talents and dump Scottish Labour.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree Georgie boy

Independent candidate?