It will now have more autonomy—which is an important first stepby Jim Gallagher / September 28, 2016 / Leave a comment
When Tony Blair’s Labour government created the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, it reconstructed the UK’s territorial constitution. But legislating for the formal elements of a constitution does not create a new polity. Many other things are needed, which governments cannot simply wish into being—a functioning media, policy-making capacity, and of course functioning political parties. It’s perhaps one of the ironies that Labour’s reforms decentralised one of the world’s most unitary states: but little or nothing changed in the organisation of the Labour Party. So in that sense, Kezia Dugdale’s success in securing formal autonomy for Scottish Labour inside the UK party is simply unfinished business, and arguably overdue.
The internal organisation of any political party—perhaps Labour most of all—is a mystery to most voters, and to many politicians and party members as well. Arcane arguments about a party’s rules become relevant only when they are signs of other, more politically salient, issues. So we all know that disputes about who can stand for the Labour leadership, or how the shadow cabinet is formed, are largely about something else.