This year’s Scottish Labour Party conference has agreed substantial changes to the Scottish Labour Party’s rule book.
The current rule book is a slim volume. It would fit into your bag or coat, so you can discuss the finer points of Clause 10(b)(2) with your pals down at the pub on a Friday night. That joy is going to be a bit trickier in future, because the new rule book is a substantial beast, more suited as a door wedge than a light read. A proper grown up rule book – it even has appendices!
This all goes back to 2015 and a joint agreement between Kez and Jeremy that the Scottish Labour Party would become more autonomous. A joint SEC/NEC working party worked up the details and that was followed by a consultation across the Scottish Labour Party. The last UK Labour Party conference agreed to changes in their rule book and today conference incorporated those changes into our own rule book. The opportunity has been taken to tidy up a few out of date provisions and omissions at the same time.
The main changes are:
Clarifying that conference can debate reserved or devolved matters. Any differences between Scottish and UK Labour policy will be resolved at the Joint Policy Committee and the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party will represent the positions taken at this conference on reserved matters.
A new Clause 16 devolves the selection of candidates for Westminster elections. The procedural rules will be set out by the SEC in an appendix.
In practice local government devolved some years ago, but the rule changes were not fully implemented. Clause 15 now covers the rules for Labour Groups and again the detailed rules with be in an appendix, together with procedural rules for candidate selections. And yes, that includes the rules that require any coalition agreements to be approved by the SEC.
The SEC also takes full responsibility for the organisation and management of CLPs and other units of party organisation in Scotland. Again there will be detailed rules for these in appendices.
The remaining changes are tidying up and confirming practices that have been in place for some time, but not confirmed in the rule book. Sadly, I still don’t qualify as a youth delegate!
These rule changes mark a significant journey in creating a more autonomous and democratic Scottish Labour Party. As the party of devolution we have not always moved as quickly as we should have done to keep our own organisation in line with political devolution. That has now changed.