Monday, 8 June 2015

Power games

It's been an interesting week for watching politicians playing their power games.

First up we have David Cameron, who has been negotiating for a better deal for the UK within the EU, looking for an opt-out from the planned 'ever-closer co-operation'.  He is confident he can achieve this.  It was reported on Sunday that he had said that any Conservative MP who is a member of the government front bench would be expected to back his position which is that staying in the EU is preferable, and that they would be sacked in they didn't.  However, he now says he was 'misinterpreted', and that he was in fact talking about the current negotiation process and not the referendum itself.  Nothing to do with the rage that greeted his announcement on Sunday then.  It does give an interesting insight into what the limits are on his power in the party though.

Next we have the Labour leadership campaigns, in which all four candidates have ruled out allowing the Labour party in Scotland to have an independent life.  This has more to do with the fact that Labour in the UK has relied on the Scottish seats to win elections in the past I think, than any idea of workers' solidarity.  Kezia Dugdale has also ruled out an independent Scottish Labour party, although she does seem to think that Labour in Scotland can be 'autonomous'.  Not sure how this differs from being independent, but we are in the realms of semantics here.  It would seem that for Ms Dugdale it means being able to do their own thing on devolved matters but toeing the party line on reserved matters.  More semi-autonomous really, but ultimately controlled by London, who will retain the ultimate power.

Finally there is an article in today's National by Ian Murray in which he says
Scottish Labour wants to see job-creating powers devolved not just from Westminster to Holyrood, but to our communities too. That is why we want to see the Work Programme devolved to local authorities as quickly as possible.
There's a nice hidden assumption in there, and that is that Labour think they will hold on to the majority of the councils that they currently hold after the 2017 elections, hence the desire to give more power to the councils.  Now I'm not saying that no power should be devolved to councils, there is a very good case for doing so for some services.  But I would wonder if Labour would be quite so keen if it turned out they weren't in control of many of the councils.

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