Monday, 9 May 2016


Now the dust of the Scottish General election is beginning to settle Labour are looking for a new role following their second humiliation at the ballot box.  The market place of Scottish politics is quite crowded now, with SNP (independence, centre-left), Tory (Union, right), Green (independence, left-wing/environmental), RISE (independence, far-left) and LibDems (federalism, errrrr help me out here).  Where are Labour to place themselves to stand out from the crowd?

The answer appears to be to become the party of the centre-left that supports full federalism within the UK.  The party of Devo-max.  Devo-max is generally agreed to mean that the Scottish parliament has all powers except for those over defence and foreign affairs and retains all money raised in Scotland, paying an agreed contribution towards defence and foreign affairs.

This would seem like a smart move for Labour.  It would give them a unique selling point to the voters, one which could get them back in the game, since it would almost certainly have been the most popular option had it been permitted on the referendum ballot paper.  But what is this we see?
[Anas] Sarwar, who is expected to take a senior frontbench role after winning a Holyrood seat on Thursday, said finding a middle way between nationalism and unionism was the “fundamental challenge” still facing the party.
[...] Sarwar’s intervention adds to growing pressure on Dugdale to agree that Scottish Labour should investigate home rule, a form of federal arrangement in which Holyrood has more control over taxation, welfare services and law-making.
Under that model, Westminster would chiefly control foreign policy, defence and perhaps some major spending areas such as pensions.
Dear god, it's the Smith Commission all over again.  Despite the fact that federalism/Devo-max has a generally accepted definition, Labour want to interpret it as a few more token powers that they feel like having, leaving most of them with Westminster.

Clearly Labour have still learned nothing from their precipitous decline.  And despite all the protests about how they will start listening to the voters, it's clear that they have no intention of doing any such thing.  They are still of the mindset that they know what's best for Scotland, so we needn't worry out little heads about it.

Mr Sarwar is widely tipped to be Ms Dugdale's successor, possibly after next year's council elections if their performance is as bad as this year's.  On the above evidence of his thinking, he may well be the last.

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