Labour presses leadership to ‘get a move on’ over federalism

Ian Murray says the party must tackle disenfranchisement 'head on'
Ian Murray says the party must tackle disenfranchisement 'head on'
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Senior Labour figures will this week attempt to revive the party’s plans for a federal UK amid signs that the proposal has hit the buffers.

The move comes more than a year since the Scottish Labour conference voted overwhelmingly to commit the party to a People’s Constitutional Convention.

It has been envisaged that the convention would pave the way towards a federal constitution included an elected second chamber at Westminster for the UK’s nations and regions.

The idea was devised as an answer to the conundrum that Scottish Labour has found itself in when faced with the Scottish constitutional question. The 2014 independence referendum saw large numbers of Labour supporters drift towards the SNP.

Supporters of a federal solution hope that giving more powers to the UK’s nations and regions will prove an attractive option for voters.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown, outgoing Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale worked towards getting the party to support a People’s Constitutional Convention.

Since then, however, the plans have stalled under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Last month Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard called on Corbyn’s constitution spokesman Jon Trickett to pick up the pace of Labour’s campaign for a federal UK.

On Saturday, an event will be held by the Labour Hame website in Edinburgh  calling for more to be done. Speakers will include former first minister Henry McLeish, Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray, MEP Catherine Stihler, and former MP Mark Lazarowicz.

Murray said: “Too many people across the nations and regions of the UK feel disenfranchised and detached from the political process. This must be tackled head on.

“Last year, Scottish Labour sent a clear message in support of a federal approach where the people decide our future, and Gordon Brown, Kezia Dugdale and Carwyn Jones progressed those plans before the General Election. Since then, there has been no action from the Labour front bench in Westminster.

“I wholeheartedly agree with Richard Leonard that our party needs to ‘get a move on’.

“We need a radical reshaping of the UK that offers a post-Brexit solution that delivers for the four corners of these islands, repatriating powers in devolved areas that will return from Brussels in the coming years, while continuing to keep the UK united. It must be decided by the people and it means tackling the hard questions about the impact of federalism for England, regionalism and the economy.

“If we continue to allow this constitutional issue to be swept under the carpet, the losers will be the millions of voters who have lost faith in our democracy; while the winners will be the hard-right Tories who want to centralise power in Westminster and the SNP who want to tear our country apart.”

The SNP’s George Adam MSP: said: “Labour at Westminster haven’t lifted a finger to deliver anything for Scotland – that is the damning verdict from the party itself. Only the SNP can be trusted to stand up for Scotland.”