Scotland politics

NEC backs greater autonomy for Scottish Labour

kezia dugdale
Image caption Leaving the NEC meeting in London, Kezia Dugdale said she was "really pleased"

The Scottish Labour Party is to have more decision making power under plans agreed by the UK party's ruling national executive committee - the NEC.

The NEC has approved devolving control over policy, constituency parties and Westminster candidate selections.

It has separately agreed that the Scottish and Welsh parties should each have a voting member of the NEC in future.

These changes still have to be agreed by the full Labour Party conference.

The Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, has been pushing for the reforms to counter the suggestion that the party is a "branch office".

She said the changes put Scottish Labour "on track to become fully autonomous within the UK Labour Party".

It is not however becoming a separate party and is expected to continue to share finances with the UK party.

The principle of greater autonomy was agreed between Ms Dugdale and the UK leader Jeremy Corbyn a year ago.

Since then Ms Dugdale has backed Mr Corbyn's rival, Owen Smith, in the Labour leadership race.

If the plan is agreed by the Labour party conference in Liverpool next week, it means:

  • The Scottish Labour Party Executive Committee (SEC) will be responsible for the procedures and selection of all UK parliamentary candidates in Scotland
  • The SEC will have overall responsibility for the management of constituency Labour parties in Scotland
  • The Scottish Labour Party will be directly represented with voting rights on the NEC by a frontbench member of the Scottish Parliament, nominated by the Scottish Labour leader
  • Scottish Labour will have full control over policy making, including in reserved policy areas

Speaking as she left the NEC meeting in London on Tuesday evening, Ms Dugdale said: "This is huge change for Scotland, I'm really pleased.

"This is a substantial change, this is going to be an autonomous Scottish Labour party - we'll have our own say over policy, but we are crucially still part of the wider UK family, so it's good news for Scottish Labour."

The NEC meeting was also discussing elections to the shadow cabinet, with a decision on that deferred for further discussion at the weekend.

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