The October meeting of the Scottish Executive Committee was an additional meeting, but there was no shortage of issues for debate.
Johann Lamont’s leader’s report formed the basis for most discussion. She rightly focused on what had been a bad period for the SNP, arguing that trust in Alex Salmond had been undermined by his actions. Dumping the NATO policy was the championing of expediency over principle, followed by the Trump film and finally the EU legal advice debacle. Catherine Stihler took a bow for her part in that. MEP’s don’t normally get much attention in the party and it couldn’t have come at a better time with the deselection process kicking off.
There was a broad welcome for the establishment of the Devolution Commission, even if it has taken some time to get started. Johann’s emphasis was on looking at where power best lies to achieve a purpose. It was important to develop a positive vision of what a Labour Scotland would look like. Amen to that!
That led on to her ‘something for nothing’ speech. She argued that we had to shift the debate and the SNP could not be allowed to get away with kidding on that all was fine. She highlighted NHS finances, college cuts, school materials and others as examples of how our public services are being starved of resources. There was a long discussion around this with some comrades critical of the tactics and others the principle. The language, timing, follow up and no mention of taxation were common criticisms. Others defended particular universal services and others the principle. Of course there has been no change in policy on these issues, that’s for the policy process, and there was a broad consensus on the need to focus on how to take the debate forward.
Other reports were a bit limited after this debate. Margaret Curran could report on some bad weeks for the Tories as well, following plebgate et al. There was a discussion around Bills of importance to Scotland including energy and pensions. Catherine Stihler reported on the EU procurement review, an important part of promoting the living wage in Scotland.
Implementation of the Review of Labour in Scotland plan was largely put off until the November away day. Still some big issues to resolve here, including candidate selection procedures.