Dire state of Scottish Labour revealed in leaked report

A leaked copy of Lesley Laird's report into the functions of the Scottish Labour Party has recommended urgent action.
A leaked copy of Lesley Laird's report into the functions of the Scottish Labour Party has recommended urgent action.
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A damning leaked report on the state of Scottish Labour, has lain out the scale of the party's problems as it looks to regroup in the wake of near wipe-out at the General Election.

A progress report, part of review of the internal structures of the party being carried out by Lesley Laird, who until December was Shadow Scottish Secretary and deputy of Scottish Labour until losing her seat, has said there is an "urgent need to make some tough choices" if the party is to "move the dial" on its political ambitions.

The report, which was commissioned by Labour's Scottish Executive Committee at the end of 2018 - before the party saw its vote share collapse to 9.3 per cent in last year's European elections, and then return just one MP to Westminster last month - exposes the dire financial straits of the party, as well as a lack of a plan to resolve the situation.

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It states there is "no detailed financial or business plan" for Scottish Labour, that there is "no membership strategy", that fundraising is "limited and not aligned to strategy, business plan or political objectives", internal structures are "dislocated" and staff are "frustrated and demotivated" as a result of undermining actions by elected politicians.

Overall, it says there's "simply not enough oversight, governance and hands on working by SEC members with the party officers and political leaders in core areas", which has "contributed to high levels of frustration and ultimately a break down in their ability to provide the level of governance needed on key aspects of the party’s operations in Scotland.”

The progress report was presented to the SEC at the same Saturday meeting which saw the party leader Richard Leonard have his proposal for a conference on the party's approach to a second independence referendum defeated.

It also criticises the party for failing to implement the recommendations of previous internal reviews, dating back to 2011, and emphasises a need for the whole organisation to become more "professional", putting that task in the hands of the new Scottish General Secretary Michael Sharpe.

Morale is a big problem, the report says, with staff feeling "frustrated and demotivated when elected representatives through their words and actions undermine the huge amount of work and effort they are making to deliver for our party.

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"We also do not make the best use of our resources and hiring has been done at times in what feels like a siloed approach. There are opportunities to improve reach and diversification of our recruitment and selection procedures. The new General Secretary should undertake a review of all roles and responsibilities aligned to Scotland. They should be mapped against the strategic and political objectives, and where required changes should be implemented."

The party's communications are also criticised, with the lack of an "integrated communications plan joining up print, digital, social media." The report states: Politically the landscape has fundamentally changed, and we have failed to come to terms with it and adjust or modify the way we do things.

"Many of these fundamental issues (which were also highlighted in 2011) contribute to our ability to articulate our core policy messages and to carry them effectively into communities and the media. An integrated communications plan is required to be developed that takes account the changed political landscape and the rise in social and digital media."

The report also recommends hiring a full-time fundraiser immediately, noting: “The current UK model provides a successful template for how this position can be financed and results delivered.”

it also recommends looking at moving party headquarters from Glasgow to Edinburgh to be closer to the Scottish Parliament.

The party said the document was not the final Laird review report and was still “subject to change” as the review was ongoing, though was expected to be completed shortly.