“Reinforcing that the cost of living crisis was the primary issue facing Scottish households just now, Sarwar pointed to Labour’s recent wins: A windfall tax, rent freeze and winter evictions ban.”
By Coll McCail & Lauren Harper, SEC Youth Representatives
Scottish Labour’s Executive Committee met in-person for the first time since our election earlier this year on the 12th of November. The SEC had not met since July after the Queen’s death cancelled our scheduled September meeting. So as to allow SEC members to campaign in the local by-election, the meeting was held in Linn.
The meeting began with Anas Sarwar’s leader’s report. Acknowledging how much had happened since July, Sarwar stressed that Scottish Labour must deserve to win rather than relying on voter’s disaffection with the Tories or SNP. The leader suggested that to do this the Party had to lay out a programme of democratic, social and economic renewal. To that end, Sarwar hailed Starmer’s GB energy announcement but emphasised the need to go further than simply establishing a state investment vehicle which sits alongside the private sector.
Reinforcing that the cost of living crisis was the primary issue facing Scottish households just now, Sarwar pointed to Labour’s recent wins: A windfall tax, rent freeze and winter evictions ban. Importantly, the leader recognised that the rent freeze could not be “the end point” and emphasised that further regulation was necessary. Commenting on the wave of industrial action sweeping the nation, Sarwar reaffirmed his prior stance that the duty of MSPs was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with workers on the picket line.
We raised the issue of self-disconnection sparked by the forced instalment of prepayment meters this winter, asking whether the Party had considered calling for the abolition of forced installation. Sarwar agreed but pointed to the legislative difficulty of such a demand, emphasising that current onus should be on ensuring everyone receives their energy bill support grant.
Claire Baker gave a report from the SPLP which highlighted the group’s current work. Scottish Labour has a number of private members bills in the works, including Mercedes Villalba’s Land Justice Bill, Paul Sweeney’s Drugs Death Prevention bill and Katy Clark’s bill to reform Freedom Of Information. Local Government and Westminster reports were submitted prior to the meeting. The Westminster report focused on a Tory Party in chaos and the local government report on the scale of cuts coming down the line for Scottish councils.
The Women’s Committee report focused on the upcoming Women’s conference, which will take place on Saturday 21 January 2023 at the University of Strathclyde. The conference will focus on the cost of living crisis. The report stressed the importance of attempts to increase the attendance of young women.
We then provided an update on the work of Scottish Young Labour, which focused on August’s AGM. We reported on elections and each of the motions passed, which – it’s worth remembering – included abortion access and buffer zones, drug reforms, GRA reform and sex work decriminalisation. Further motions passed at the AGM included a call for a Scottish young members conference. We raised this and SEC members were generally supportive. It will be discussed further and in more depth at future meetings.
Whilst time could not be allocated at November’s meeting for further discussion on this, we also raised that, in the event of the formal reaffiliation of Scottish Labour Students, students should have their own SEC representative. This will be discussed further at the next meeting.
The General Secretary’s report focused on candidate selections for the upcoming General Election. The Party aims to have candidates in key seats selected by February’s Party conference. Questions were raised about twinning – the procedure by which the Party aims to ensure a 50/50 gender split in candidates – and the fact that it capped female representation at 50% but members were assured this was the best viable option. SEC members were told that long lists for selections will be drawn up by the general election sub-committee. The local selection committee will then shortlist.
SEC members enquired as to whether the Scottish Party would be using similarly rigorous procedures as have been deployed South of the border to ensure the selection of ‘high quality candidates’. No definitive answer was given to this however it was emphasised that any such work would be conducted in conjunction with the Party at large.
Questions were also asked about the Party’s plans for already selected candidates after the boundary review. The current plan is to move candidates across where applicable whilst respecting local democracy. There was a suggestion that an outline of this process should be drawn up prior to the commencement of selections in order to ensure democracy is observed.
The SEC also received a membership report. Many new members have joined the Party since September. However, as this is the first report we’ve received, we do not know whether this reflects overall trends.
Scottish Labour conference will take place between the 17th and 19th of February at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. The next SEC meeting will take place on the 14th of January.
- Coll McCail & Lauren Harper are Youth Representatives on the Labour Party’s Scottish Executive Committee (SEC). Any questions or issues young members would like raised at future meetings, please contact Coll and Lauren by email.
- You can follow Coll McCail on twitter here; and follow Lauren Harper here.