Labour should lead way on constitution, says Baker

Former MSP and current MEP and Scottish Labour deputy leader candidate, Richard Baker. Picture: Contributed
Former MSP and current MEP and Scottish Labour deputy leader candidate, Richard Baker. Picture: Contributed
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LABOUR in Scotland needs to embrace the values of the party in Wales and help set up a constitutional convention for the whole of the UK, Scottish deputy leader candidate Richard Baker has claimed.

In an article for The Scotsman, Mr Baker, who is an MSP for North East Scotland but spent his teenage years in the north of England, insisted that Scottish Labour needed to resist calls to split away and become a separate party.

He warned that during the election it was clear that people backed the SNP because it not Labour “was the party of change.”

Highlighting the success of Welsh Labour under Carwyn Jones compared to the party in Scotland, he said: “Welsh Labour have thrived under devolution and support for independence there has struggled to get beyond ten percent, with some polls suggesting it is even lower.

“There will be many reasons for these contrasts, both political and cultural, but it is foolish for Scottish Labour not to make greater efforts to learn from colleagues in Wales.”

He added: “It is also the case that a proposal from Wales for how our party deals with the constitutional question will have an important role to play in our future both in Scotland and across the UK.”

He went on: “This is why it is important both Scottish Labour and the party at a UK level embrace the proposal from Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, for a constitutional convention.”

He said that the initiative, first called for in 2012, should be co-chaired by the leaders of the parties in the UK, Wales and Scotland but also pressed the Tory UK Government to back the idea too.

He wrote: “There can be no doubt that it is now well beyond time for our party to establish this convention.”

Insisting that it needed to look beyond the party, he said: “It must ensure our party members can have a meaningful say in developing our vision for the constitutional future of the UK, but must also look outwith our party too and seek views and expertise far and wide.”

He added: “The convention should show Labour is proud of delivering further powers for Holyrood which mean the key decisions for government in Scotland are made here, and consider next steps for devolution too. It must also develop plans for devolving powers from Westminster into communities across the UK – as indeed Holyrood must start devolving powers into communities in Scotland.”