The 14th November SEC meeting is the annual meeting following on from conference.
New officers were elected:
Chair – Jackie Martin
Vice Chair – Linda Stewart
Treasurer – Cathy Peattie
Kez Dugdale reported on the Statement of Intent she had agreed with the U.K. Leader on party autonomy. There would be some joint work on this between the NEC and SEC. Members welcomed this while always being wary about delays given past experience.
She also said that conference was open and positive and whilst recent polls showed how much still needed to be done, an increase of three points in the Labour vote was in the right direction.
Her immediate policy priorities would be Tax credits, Time to Care, Fair Start fund, and looked after children.
Alex Rowley added that he would be leading work on the economy and jobs. SEC members argued that there was no Scottish Government strategy or even a credible procurement policy.
Alex was also coordinating work on local govt including next Saturday’s Labour councillor conference. A theme that came up later in the meeting was a concern that the replacement structure for local govt committees wasn’t working and the local connection with council groups was being lost. At national level, while a Labour councillor conference was fine, there needed to be a wider engagement on local govt issues including trade unions and constituencies.
MSPs reported on recent public service debates on policing, health and education that highlighted serious government failings. There had also been debates on Trident and the Trade Union Bill.
At Westminster, Ian Murray updated the SEC on the Scotland Bill that had delivered ‘The Vow’. There was a very late SNP amendment devolving tax credits after Kez’s initiative. Motions devolving powers Is one thing, but delivering is more challenging for them.
There was some concern about the behind closed doors discussion on the important fiscal framework and borrowing powers.
There had been three SNP debates on Trident, but nothing about Tax Credits, poverty etc.
Ian paid credit to Baroness Hollis’s successful motion on Tax Credits in the House of Lords that shows what intelligent opposition can achieve. Members urged similar action on the Trade Union Bill, ensuring that members of the House of Lords were fully briefing on the devolved issues. Ian pointed out that the SNP hadn’t been as slow to press for an LCM in relation to the Green Investment Bank and it had been the Welsh government that had led the way on the LCM issue.
Local Government representatives reported on cuts and budgets that would be clearer in December. They were also concerned about the levy on training as they already had a good track record on this issue.
Members returned to the need for a clear political strategy over council cuts. 40,000 jobs had gone from local govt and not a task group to be seen! Most Labour councils had done a good job on the Trade Union Bill, but we needed to finish the job in others.
The list selection procedures were finalised with shortlisting panels appointed. There was a discussion on changing the freeze date to at least bring it in line with the U.K. Leadership freeze date. The current rule would exclude a lot of new members who joined during that campaign. Others felt we couldn’t have different dates for constituency selections and the list. The practical impact of the early freeze date is to favour incumbents and long standing members with party networks, and that effectively discourages new faces. Not of course that this would influence any members of the SEC!
Members reiterated the decision to include the Leader and Deputy on the list and the reasons for that, while recognising that this is a matter for the individuals concerned.
There were a number of reports on progress with selections and panel interviews.
Otherwise one of the shorter SEC meetings of late!