A delayed start to the usually quiet June meeting due to a combination of the tragic Art School fire and an Orange Lodge march in the vicinity.
Richard Leonard welcomed the election of Lesley Laird as Deputy Leader. He pointed to effective opposition on issues like the independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside. A range of events will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS – one a Labour’s finest achievements in government. He welcomed recent visits by Shadow Cabinet members, which showed the value of our UK links.
He deplored the Tory Brexit shambles and the insufficient debating time at Westminster, while pointing to the irony of the SNP posing over devolution when they were at best late entrants to the cause. Like the Tories, their actions seek to undermine devolution. He still hoped that Scottish Labour’s attempt to fine a compromise would be picked up, but Labour will continue to be the defenders of devolution.
He highlighted the the SNP’s Growth Commission report as evidence of a return to right-wing economic policies, with austerity plans that were worse than George Osborne’s. He was equally scathing about Tory attempts to portray themselves as in any way progressive – as highlighted by the actions of Christopher Chope MP in talking out the members bill on up skirting.
His key message was that Scottish Labour will be the party of the radical tradition, focusing on the issues that really matter to working people – including jobs, housing and living standards.
There were full reports on Scottish Parliament and Westminster activities with our elected representatives busy on many fronts. The local government report concentrated on the underfunding of the early years expansion and the staffing challenges in particular. Members were encouraged to engage with the work of the Local Governance Review. The MEP report highlighted the key stages of the Brexit process and the tight timetable, as well as current problems over trade and political developments in Italy and Germany.
The Women’s Committee updated the SEC on plans for the women’s conference and a range of events.
The SEC devoted a large part of the meeting to the refreshed power-sharing proposal from the Aberdeen Labour Group. There were a range of views around the table, but a clear majority felt that local and national political considerations and the need to ensure that the party rules were upheld, meant that the proposal had to be rejected. The question of individual disciplinary action is now a matter for the NEC and the National Constitutional Committee of the Labour Party. This was a difficult decision, but the councillors concerned wilfully ignored party rules and that has to be the SEC’s primary consideration.
Good progress had been made on Westminster selections since the last meeting. There was now a timetable to complete all the first 20 seats before the summer.