Monday, April 23, 2018

Federalism, the political road to nowhere: Scotland's Labour leader Richard Leonard wants Jeremy Corbyn to legislate for a federal UK if he wins Westminster in 2022, he also wants to abolish of the House of Lords; if that is his platform, he is out of his political depth, the people don’t want federalism in England or in Scotland, learn from history, the Kezia Dugdale era was a major disaster

Dear All

I stopped believing in leaders being all knowing quite some time ago in Scotland, the problem is at Holyrood, we have had so many duds, they promise much, do little and don't listen. 

Stephen Daisley penned an article recently about the Holyrood Parliament, in my opinion it is a second rate Parliament with more than its fair share of third rate MSPs.

Holyrood has been a failure, although you could place a lot of blame at the door of the SNP, the truth is the Parliament is as Daisley describes, the actions of the Parliament in caustic detail by summing up by saying this:

“So far this year parliamentary time has been used to debate Earth Hour, the superior quality of Scottish building stones, and ‘the economic potential of Robert Burns’. MSPs have tabled motions welcoming the opening of a ferry terminal, congratulating a school dance troupe on its triumph in a regional contest, honouring a pub in Kilmarnock for winning an award, and marking the retirement of woman from her job at M&S in Kirkcaldy”.

Daisley added:

“The 1999 intake was a class of also-rans and those who could only dream of being so exalted. The country was to be governed by over-promoted councillors and the finest solicitors our district courts had to offer”.

Holyrood in a nutshell!

I voted for Labour leader Richard Leonard because, he represented the best chance for the Labour Party in Scotland to hopefully move its forward. 

It is the 23rd April, since the start of the year; the Labour Party has effectively done nothing of note in campaigning terms. The ‘civil war’ between the left and the right is still going on but quietly, the right is binding its time, well what else can they do.

One thing which is going on in the Labour Party in Scotland is the idea that federal British state solves all the problems of SNP ‘civic’ Nationalism in Scotland. Kezia Dugdale of the ‘right’ and now Labour leader Richard Leonard of the 'left' supports this idea.

Federalism solves nothing, in fact, the people aren’t talking about it, don’t want it, and other than the Lib Dems, there isn't the appetite for it either side of the border. 

This is a policy which needs Labour to be in control both sides of the border. If they were in control of Westminster and Holyrood they would have the numbers to push it through, and given the state of the party, that idea at present is non viable.

Labour leader Richard Leonard saying Jeremy Corbyn must “get a move on” with plans for a federal British state doesn’t help the Labour Party in Scotland. As the third party in Scotland after being overtaken by the Conservatives, the party lacks credibility at present with the people who matter.

That’s the voters!

If you were to ask what does federalism mean and how does it work in practice in Scotland if pushed through, you wouldn’t get a convincing answer from most Labour MSPs, HQ staff, activists or rank and file members. One thing the Labour Party is good at is change; that would be change for change sake, to look as if they are doing something when in fact they are just moving “deckchairs” about. After being wiped out in Scotland in 2015, the snap 2017 election brought some joy as the number of Labour MPs went from 1 to 7.

An unremarkable achievement from a party which dominate Scottish politics for decades! So far since returning to the Labour Party in October last year, I haven’t done a single day of activism, not attended a single meeting, the first four months of my membership, I was banned from attending meetings in Pollok CLP. The Labour Party rules state however I was allowed to attend but in the initial rejoining period of 8 weeks I wouldn’t get voting rights.

The SNP constantly scream about getting more powers, but that is a double edge sword, the more powers they get, the less people will view independence as credible. Once Labour leader Richard Leonard made his pitch, the SNP and Greens savaged Leonard for his intervention, the Greens are seen as an SNP proxy vote cache. In general terms, there should be a major reshaping of the British state due to Brexit, but the constant leeching away of powers fuels discontent in Scotland.

I would put it this way, how long can you sit and listen to a tap dripping before you get ratty?

Previously, I have blogged on this group.

They want a new settlement from Westminster regarding the UK, in politics, the assumption that people can be ‘bought off’ still remains a driving theme. Richard Leonard says he wants Labour to set out a radical alternative to Scottish independence, well now he has said it, what does federalism mean in practice?

And while we are at it, you might want to dive in here and read this page to get the wheels rolling.

Federalism could see parliaments in the four nations of the UK - Northern Ireland, WalesScotland and England sharing equal powers, with a federal government retaining control over foreign affairs, defence, currency, welfare and pensions. The problem with this is that the UK at present has parties going in different directions, and unless the direction of travel is the same, this would lead to problems, major problems, co-operation to make federalism work isn’t there, although it has its supporters in other parties. I don’t see it in the interest of the UK as a body to end up being fractured and the idea of the creation of regional assemblies across England is rubbish. When John Prescott tried to get this idea off the ground, the people wouldn’t buy into it.

At the present time, there is no interest in Federalism and the Labour Party should recognise this, but as Stephen Daisley said about Holyrood:

“Holyrood must stop talking to itself and start listening to the people it serves”.

The exact same thing could be applied to the Labour Party, they are out of government on both sides of the border because they refused to listen to the people it serves, and ploughed on regardless. The change in Scottish politics means now that there are no safe Labour seats in any area of Scotland, if you want elected you have to work for it.

Richard Leonard said he would be “pushing” for Corbyn to commit to legislate for a federal UK if Labour wins the next General Election.

He added:

“I'm in favour of abolition of the House of Lords and I can see there being a case (for federalism), especially if we are moving towards a more federal constitution with a second chamber that is comprised of representatives from Scotland, Wales and the regions of England and Northern Ireland. So I can see that there is a strong case that kind of reform.”

Finally, I am not in favour of abolition of the House of Lords, and I am not in favour of a second chamber that is comprised of representatives from Scotland, Wales and the regions of England and Northern Ireland because of cronyism. One thing about the House of Lords is that it does have independent voices who speak out, we would lose this with a crony elected new second chamber. We should lose our history and traditions because of some people’s desire for cheap political expediency.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


Al C said...

"Holyrood has been a failure, although you could place a lot of blame at the door of the SNP"

I agree, and I think the reason for this is that the SNP hoped that Holyrood would be a vehicle for independence, but that mission has rapidly transformed into a failure, and Holyrood hasn't developed beyond this short-sighted thinking.

"One thing about the House of Lords is that it does have independent voices who speak out, we would lose this with a crony elected new second chamber. We should lose our history and traditions because of some people’s desire for cheap political expediency."

This is why I'm not really in favour of getting rid of it, nor of being rid of the royal family - despite not being staunchly royalist or entirely unsympathetic to British republicans, because it doesn't look great on paper, but in both cases it's very valuable to have a separate neutral referee in democracy, which Sweden, the country many on the left see as an example to follow, has as well.

A lot of Brexiteers are grumbling though about the House of Lords response to Brexit regarding the Customs Union debate. What are your thoughts on that, George?

Kezia Davidson-Rennie said...

Three cheers for Her Majesty, a mother again.

Hip, hip - hoorah!
Hip, hip - hoorah!
Hip, hip - hoorah!

Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves
Britons never never never shall be slaves.

Hip, hip - hoorah!