Differences between Scottish Labour and the UK party on major issues would be political suicide – says Shetland Labour Party secretary Gordon Thomson.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and UK party leader Jeremy Corbyn issued a “joint statement of intent” yesterday and agreed to make the Scottish party more autonomous.
This weekend Ms Dugdale set out plans including control of UK General Election selections, management of constituency Labour parties and policy making.
“This joint statement of intent signals one of the biggest changes in Scottish Labour history,” said Ms Dugdale.
“Labour is the party of devolution but we didn’t devolve ourselves. We need to learn from our mistakes.
“This isn’t change for the sake of it. A Scottish Labour Party with more autonomy will make us fit for the future so we can do a better job of holding the SNP Government to account and, more importantly, to ask people to put their trust in us once again.”
Mr Corbyn said: “When I was elected leader of the Labour Party I said I wanted a new kind of politics, where people had greater ownership over how decisions are made. That applies to the Labour Party just as much as it does to our country.
“This is a historic day for Scottish Labour. Kezia Dugdale is the boss in Scotland and I look forward to campaigning alongside her.”
However, concerns have been raised in the media that such a move could mean conflicting views between Scottish Labour and UK Labour, on big issues such as defence and taxation, in the lead up to the 2020 General Election. It could also mean confusion for voters.
Mr Thomson believed there would be discussion between the parties if there were differences in policies.
“If UK Labour was saying one thing and Scottish Labour was saying another then they would realise that was political suicide and it would just look stupid.
“There will have to be some degree of communication between the two.”
He expected more to be said on the issue at the Scottish Labour Party conference in Perth this weekend.
Asked what he thought of more autonomy, and with it whether Scottish Labour would offer a greater challenge to the SNP, he said:
“I think Labour is going to find it quite hard in Scotland fighting the SNP in the next election.
“Anything they can do to show they are a more independent party or that they have strong views….I think Scottish Labour has to seen to be a more robust and credible movement and if Scottish independence ever did happen then we would have to have a Scottish labour party in Scotland.
“Also I don’t think UK Labour and Scottish Labour have had a really a very good relationship in the past and both Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale realise that and they are trying to improve things.”