Britain’s opposition Labour haemorrhaged voters in this year’s General Election but the newly installed leader Jeremy Corbyn may have a novel new way to get more Scots on the left-wing political party’s side.
His idea is to hive off Scottish Labour altogether, meaning that the party north of the border will be able to propose tailor-made policies that specifically address issues and are more attractive to voters in Scotland. Welfare and Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons programme, are said to be Scottish Labour’s target policies to adapt.
Corbyn, who won by a landslide leadership victory vote just over a month ago, told The Sunday Times newspaper that he is aiming to create a “federal” party in Scotland. Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale supports this idea as she aims to tell parliament today that Labour will seek greater “autonomy” in Scotland and use the powers of Holyrood to have greater control over policies such as welfare.
“With these reforms there will be no doubt that the main focus of Scottish Labour will be on Holyrood, where the key decisions affecting the daily lives of Scots are made,” said Dugdale to Sky News.
“It won’t be the Commons, the Lords or the European Parliament. They are important, of course, but the most important focus of Scottish Labour will be on using the powers at Holyrood to transform the lives of people in Scotland.”
“There’s a chance here to reform and innovate how our party is organised and structured, if we get it right then our party will be in a much better and fitter position for the future.”
The Labour Party massively depends of voter support from Scotland. Usually, according to electoral data, Scots usually vote for the Scottish National Party or Labour. In 2010, Scottish voter support for Labour cratered and the party lost 91 seats across Britain. The Scottish National Party stayed the same with only 6 seats.
However, the Scottish referendum in September 2014 boosted support for the SNP and proved too much for Labour. In the 2015 General Election, Labour was more or less wiped out in Scotland and SNP gained 50 seats. The former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont resigned a month after the referendum and quipped that the Labour party north of the border was being treated like a “branch office.”
So, Corbyn’s plans to create a federal party seems to be a good idea to win back voters.
But, the radical left-wing Labour leader will have a fight on his hands. The SNP pointed out in a statement that it may signal Labour is shirking off resources to tackle “more important issues, like welfare cuts, the EU migrant crisis or holding David Cameron’s government to account, that should be the priority.”