The Scottish Executive Committee met last Saturday (Jan 17) in Stirling. There was a good turnout of local government candidates at the training day in the same venue.
Alex Rowley gave the Leader’s report in Kezia’s absence. He focused on the parliamentary response to the SNP’s local government budget cuts and the launch of the framework manifesto. A number of members referenced the support some groups needed to sharpen up local campaigns with reference to the ‘Scrap the Debt’ campaign and other ideas in the STULP ‘Workforce Agenda’.
Parliamentary debates continued to dominated by Brexit, with only three Bills introduced since the election. There was a welcome for the common stance on the constitution in Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Glasgow. Difference over substance is to be expected, that’s what devolution brings, but we should avoid mixed messages on use of language.
Mary Fee MSP, on behalf of the parliamentary group, highlighted the NHS campaign that is challenging the poor management of the service under the SNP. The Tories making an even worse mess in England, isn’t a credible excuse. Campaigns on bus re-regulation and Scotrail had also been effective.
Local government representatives highlighted the 4.8% cut in their budget allocation and the pressures that was placing on local budget setting. The minister was setting deadlines without parliamentary approval.
The General Secretary reported on fundraising and financial plans. 78% of council selections had been completed. In practice this is better than past years given low take up areas. It was agreed to waive 12 month rule, although with appropriate checks and balances.
Scottish Labour has made a submission to the Westminster boundary review, based on local consensus responses. The current proposals are based on existing wards which will change. So the second stage is likely to bring more changes.
Future Community Leaders Programme was agreed. 125 applications had been received and 20 will be selected in each year of the 3 year programme. The candidates selected cover a range of ages, experience, gender etc.
A complaint had been received regarding the use of email addresses in SEC elections. It was reluctantly recognised that the rules could not be changed at this stage, but any breach of the rules by candidates or their supporters would be dealt with by the Constitutional Committee.
The conference programme was discussed. Tom Watson, Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn would all be speaking. Contemporary motions would be considered throughout conference rather than just on Sunday. Votes will be handled electronically so it is important that delegates register by the deadline.
The Constitution Committee will meet to agree the necessary rule book amendments following the changes agreed at UK conference.