Labour needs a settled view on devolution to recover in Scotland
Having been eclipsed by the Conservatives as the main opposition at Holyrood opposing independence, Scottish Labour is now consulting on its own future.
According to reports, a process of healing a battered and bruised party has begun, with a consultation being sent to party members on reforming the party, including the option of the Scottish Labour Party becoming fully independent from the UK wide party.
While the option is just one at the extreme end of a spectrum which includes greater autonomy for the Scottish party within the wider UK Labour Party, the fact that it has been mooted at all has raised eyebrows.
Having suffered such heavy losses last May, the party needs to think first about why it lost. However interesting it might be, internal navel gazing will do little until the party has reached a view on Scotland’s constitutional future.
The reality is that Labour got caught in a pincer movement in May between the SNP’s continued desire for independence, and the Conservatives’ strategy of setting itself up as the true defender of Scotland’s place in the UK.
If Labour is to regain lost ground anytime soon it needs to come to a distinct and exciting ‘third way’ for Scotland’s future, not a further round of shuffling internal chairs.
It comes as a senior member of the SNP has reignited once again the debate over what happens to Scotland if it is forced to leave the European Union against the will of Scottish voters.
Speaking at the Hewlett Packard Enterprise offices in London yesterday on the case for a Remain vote on June 23, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, told the audience:
‘As a supporter of Scottish independence within the European Union, I can assure you that this issue has not gone away, especially with the potential outcome of Scotland being taken out of the EU against the wishes of Scottish voters.’
He went on however:
‘I do not wish for this route to Scottish sovereignty, as I would prefer to remain within the EU together with our friends, neighbours and key trading partners in England, Wales and Ireland north and south.
Scotland can and will make constitutional progress regardless of the EU referendum.
‘What I do wish for in three weeks of positive campaigning are the strong messages around jobs, prosperity and security that matter to us individually, as families, as communities as countries.’
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward
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