This was the first SEC since the general election. It started with a presentation on the campaign and the outcome, together with some thoughts on next steps.
Scottish Labour’s recovery from 15% polling at the start of the year, to 20% in the local elections and 27% in the general election, demonstrates real progress. Five out of six target seats were won and two more from the second tier.
There was a big thank you to the candidates and their teams for the huge effort they personally put in, in some cases without as much local support as they deserved. Many candidates volunteered at a time when this looked like a hopeless task and the careerists went missing. They reflected an authenticity in the campaign from Jeremy downwards.
The meeting also congratulated Lesley Laird on her appointment as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland.
SEC members contributed a range of views on the campaign and where we should go from here. The trade unions also shared their feedback from member campaigns. The big shift in voting intention came late in the campaign and this was largely thanks to the positive manifesto. As ever there was a debate on the fine balancing act between messaging on the constitution and austerity. There was limited evidence of tactical voting in some seats, but the Tory vote has to be addressed in Labour’s strategy going forward.
The September meeting will give further consideration to the campaign going forward. However, there will be a busy summer of campaign events and Jeremy is planning to come to Scotland three times before September. SEC members indicated that they would also welcome other shadow cabinet members coming to Scotland. The election had enthused our membership and supporter base and it was vital that we build on that momentum.
With the risk of another UK general election, consideration was given to selecting candidates. There are a number of considerations, not least the possibility of boundary changes. Members wanted to ensure that we retained the 50:50 gender balance of candidates as well as other underrepresented groups. There was also a need to review the rules for selection contests to ensure there is a level playing field for all potential candidates. It was therefore agreed that while we need to progress the selection of candidates, the constitution committee would give detailed consideration to these issues and report to the September meeting.
On local government, the SEC congratulated Alison Evison on her election as President of COSLA. There will be a meeting of council Labour groups on 15 August to look at how groups can be supported and political strategies better coordinated. SEC members also indicated that there was a need to look at how the Local Campaign Forum structure was operating.
The panel appointed to consider power sharing arrangements reported to the SEC. Ten requests had been received from Labour groups. Several had been sent back for further consideration and three rejected. Aberdeen councillors had been suspended and a formal disciplinary investigation would be initiated.
A motion was received from one CLP questioning if their Labour group had broken the rules. This will be investigated and report brought to the next meeting.
Finally, a report was presented on new structures for women’s forums and the UK women’s conference. A task group will work up new arrangements in Scotland.