Scottish Executive Committee – January 2018

This meeting was the SEC’s annual away day in Dunblane. Really more of an extended meeting, given the amount of business that had been deferred during the leadership election.

Richard set out his recent policy announcements, including his Dundee speech on public ownership, an initiative that is all the more relevant with the collapse of Carillion. This is part of developing a long term vision for the next 20 years of the Scottish Parliament. Setting out what Scottish Labour is for, not just what we are against.

The parliamentary focus was on the budget and Labour’s alternative will be published before the Stage 1 debate on Wednesday. For the longer term, he has asked Professor Christine Cooper to lead the work of a tax and revenue commission. James Kelly’s Football Act (Repeal) Bill had gained majority support at the first stage, and he paid tribute to the work of James and his team on this.

At Westminster, Lesley Laird reported on the EU Withdrawal Bill, which was now in the House of Lords. She commended the work of Keir Stalmer in developing Labour’s position on the Bill and the withdrawal negotiations. The group was also campaigning on the RBS branch closures and putting pressure on the Secretary of State over his Carillion advisor.

David Ross concentrated on the local government budget implications. There was a welcome common theme in all the political reports that the various teams were working better together, with a clear political focus.

A plan was agreed to start UK selections in marginal seats, together with a selection procedure and code of conduct. Most members recognised the importantance of being on a general election footing and an initial 20 seats would be selected. There was a debate about the merits of twinning as against All Women Shortlists. Twinning has its merits when you are selecting all seats as with the Scottish Parliament, but is less effective in these circumstances. There is some helpful research on the effectiveness of AWS here. There will always be CLPs who oppose AWS in their own patch, but the reality is that we are still in a position were these types of measures are required to select candidates that reflect all the population. Those candidates who stood up to the plate in 2017 will be automatically shortlisted as will those who receive more than 50% of nominations from affiliates.

It was agreed that the Deputy Leadership election will be held over the summer. This ensures that we focus on holding the Tories and the SNP to account during the parliamentary session. It also avoids duplicating ballots, with a significant financial saving. The Organisation Committee will review the lessons learned from the recent leadership election and develop new procedures.

The meeting also agreed new Aims and Objectives for the SEC, together with terms of reference and standing orders. The media guidelines seek to achieve a balance between transparency and the need to deal with confidential matters, The ‘comrade’ who thought it was a good idea to leak SEC papers to ‘The Sun’, really needs to take a long hard look at themselves.

The Women’s Conference and structures are progressing well. More work has also been done on Sexual Harassment Procedures, together with UK developments.

Agreement was reached on starting the policy framework in the run up to the next Scottish Parliament elections. Elections to the Scottish Policy Forum will take place over the summer. Richard will also be presenting a series of policy documents to this year’s conference.

The outcome of elections to the the executive of the Scottish Association of Labour Councillors was reported to the SEC. There will be a Scottish Labour Councillors conference on 10 February. Richard has also proposed a wider local government conference later in the year, to allow the wider party to engage with local government issues. Recent council by-elections had been positive and there are a number of important by-elections in the coming months.

The latest membership figures were reported. Overall membership has doubled since 2012.

The SEC will propose a rule change to this year’s conference which will give conference the right to refer back part of an SPF report, without having to reject the whole document. A long standing Revitalise proposal.



SEC November 2017

This month’s SEC was a first. The downside, it was Sunday morning – the upside, a joint meeting with the NEC.

Jeremy was in good form giving the Westminster report and his campaign plans, which include regular visits to Scotland. He welcomed Richard Leonard as the new Leader of Scottish Labour. Richard set out his vision for Scottish Labour and presented a paper on winning in Scotland that outlined his initial thoughts on an organisational and political strategy for Scottish Labour.

In the afternoon, both committees returned to their normal business. Cathy Peattie kicked off the SEC by welcoming the excellent result in the Rutherglen by-election. The swing to Labour demonstrates the progress we are making at all levels. She also thanked the staff for their round the clock efforts during the leadership election.

Katy Clark introduced the UK Party Democracy Review. She will be looking at all aspects of the party structure, from CLPs to conference, so that it better reflects the mass membership party Labour has become – the largest in Europe. There will be Scottish events and member surveys, although it is of course a matter for the Scottish Labour Party, which recommendations it adopts in relation to our rules. She plans to report in the summer of 2018, with any rule changes going to conference.

The Women’s Working Group gave an update on their work to develop the women’s organisation in the party. This includes the Scottish Women’s Conference on 17 February 2018.

Richard gave his first Leader’s report welcoming the fair degree of consensus in the leadership campaign on policy and his priorities. He would be discussing with colleagues before announcing any changes to the shadow cabinet. There was the inevitable question about events in the ‘Jungle’. Richard set out the process of events and said the Group would deal with matter on Kezia’s return.

Lesley Laird reported on Westminster issues which included the dismal UK Budget and Brexit.

Richard’s attendance at the COSLA Labour Group meeting on Friday was welcomed by David Ross in his report. The Group wanted to strengthen relations with MSPs and trade unions as they tackled the difficult budget position and campaigned for fair funding in the forthcoming Scottish budget. SEC members welcomed this and the trade unions indicated that STULP would be reviewing its campaign plans. The staffing support for Labour councillors also needed to be deployed effectively.


The General Secretary’s report included the leadership election and the youth section ballot. There was a detailed discussion on sexual harassment procedures and it was agreed to establish a working group to look at strengthening them.

There was an update report on the investigation process into the suspended Aberdeen City councillors. The Constitutional Committee will monitor any change in circumstances to see if the Group could become compliant with the SEC requirements for arrangements with other parties, including how the Budget is handled. The conduct of individual members would still be a matter for the NEC Disputes Panel and the NCC.

There were two motions from Shettleston CLP on SEC procedures which will be given further consideration at the SEC away day in January.

Overall, a very positive set of meetings with a new Leader and constructive discussions with our comrades in the UK Party.



Richard Leonard is new Leader of Scottish Labour

Richard Leonard has been elected as the new Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.


The result was as follows:
Total Votes                           Percentage
Richard Leonard                            12,469                             56.7%
Anas Sarwar                                    9,516                               43.3%

Richard Leonard                           Anas Sarwar
Members                                          51.8%                              48.2%

Affiliated Supporters                    77.3%                              22.7%

Registered Supporters                  48.1%                              51.9%

Richard said:

“Real change, energised with this new generation helping to lead it, but founded on our old and enduring idealism too. That is the unity we can rally around, not simply a call for unity but around a renewed unity of purpose.

And our shared purpose is clear, to build again, to win again. So that our purpose today is not just to elect a leader. My aim is to be the next Labour First Minister of Scotland.”


SEC – September 2017

With the resignation of Kez Dugdale, the planned SEC away day was abandoned. Instead the SEC primarily focused on the procedures for the leadership election.

The Chair started the meeting by thanking Kez and referenced the two excellent by-election results. There was plenty of support from members in both campaigns and a 10% increase in the Labour vote shows the party is in good shape for the campaigns ahead.

Kevin Lindsay resigned his place on the SEC and therefore as Vice-Chair. Cathy Peattie was elected as Vice-Chair. The resulting vacancy as Treasurer was filled by Ian Miller.

Alex Rowley gave the Interim Leader’s report. He covered the very positive (despite the daft media coverage) elected members away day. The planned campaigns will continue despite the leadership election and arrangements are being put in place to strengthen campaign support to council groups. The Scottish Government’s new programme had no less than ten of Labour’s manifesto pledges in it.

There was a detailed discussion around all aspects of the procedures for the leadership election, although mostly around administrative practicalities like email systems. The detailed procedures are set out here.

Key dates
Monday 11 September – Nominations open for Leader
Saturday 16 September – Nomination Hustings for MSPs, MPs and MEPs
Sunday 17 September – Nominations close. Validly nominated candidates for Leadership to be published
Monday 18 September – Supporting nominations open.  Scottsh Labour Party hustings period opens.
Monday 9 October – Last date to join as member, affiliated supporter, or registered supporter, in order to vote in the Leadership ballot.
Friday 13 October – Supporting nominations close
Friday 27 October – Ballot opens.  Scottish Labour Party hustings period closes
Friday 17 November at 12noon – Ballot closes
Saturday 18 November – Result announced

Key points to note are the freeze dates as above and that CLP nominations must come from all member meetings. Registered supporters will pay a £12 fee. A ‘Build to Win’ recruitment pack will be going out to party units.

Procedures were also agreed for the election of young members and councillor seats on the SEC.

Scottish conference next year will be held in Dundee on 9-11 March.

SEC report – July 2017

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.