“Sarwar said Scottish Labour still has work to do to explain how we will expand community wealth building, create well paid green jobs and outline an alternative to SNP mismanagement of the NHS.”
By Coll McCail & Lauren Harper, Scottish Labour’s Executive Committee (SEC) Youth Representatives
The latest meeting of the SEC took place on Saturday the 15th of April. It was the first meeting with Scottish Labour’s new General Secretary, John Paul McHugh.
The meeting began with the election of the SEC’s office bearers for the forthcoming year. Scott Arthur was elected chair of the SEC, Simon Macfarlane was elected Vice chair and Cara Hilton was elected Treasurer.
Anas Sarwar gave his leader’s report which began with a sincere thanks to outgoing General Secretary James Kelly. This was echoed by the entire SEC. Sarwar noted that Scottish Politics sits at a potential juncture, offering opportunity to the Scottish Labour Party. He said that, given the SNP’s crisis, the primary task for Scottish Labour was to set out what the Party would do differently. Reminding the SEC that not a single institution is stronger than it was when the SNP came to power, Sarwar reaffirmed Scottish Labour’s focus on the 2026 Holyrood election, as well as the importance of the 2024 GE. At next year’s Westminster election, he outlined that there was still work to be done in articulating what a Labour victory would mean for Scotland.
Sarwar said Scottish Labour still has work to do to explain how we will expand community wealth building, create well paid green jobs and outline an alternative to SNP mismanagement of the NHS. He explained that his speech on Monday (17/04) will focus on what the change Scotland needs will look like. Sarwar said that people feel as if Labour is on the rise and the SNP is on the decline. The challenge, he said, is to turn that feeling into votes. Sarwar also reaffirmed Scottish Labour’s commitment to trade union solidarity. He noted that, if the Party got things right, it was not on the cusp of a fightback, but a return to government.
During questions, we stressed the need to set out the alternative to the SNP’s failing climate response. The SNP’s rhetoric may be good, but rapidly the transition looks increasingly less ‘just’. In response, Sarwar highlighted the need to talk about economic sovereignty, community and public services. He said that Scottish Labour needs to articulate an alternative democratic model to grab attention and enthuse the public.
The Women’s Committee Report spotlighted ongoing work around mentoring programs for General Election candidates. The lack of ethnic minority representation at the Women’s Conference was highlighted during discussion and the SEC agreed there needs to be an emphasis on this going forward.
Both the UK and Holyrood parliamentary reports were written up and circulated prior to the meeting.The Holyrood report noted the recent portfolio reshuffle. Discussion focused on how members could help amplify the work of MSPs.
The Local Government report noted the importance of Scottish Labour getting their line right on ScotGov’s upcoming New Deal for local government. During discussion, it was highlighted that certain Labour authorities had created an avoidable mess regarding recent budgets.
The General Secretary’s report began with a discussion of a new draft Code of Conduct for SEC members. The SEC agreed that this draft should, and did not, include a statement stating SEC members will continue to be able to issue reports to their respective constituencies. During this discussion, we highlighted the need for an induction process for new SEC members in future. This is something we did not receive and would have benefited from.
The General Secretary provided an update on Westminster selections. At the time of the meeting, eleven selections had concluded. Ten more will conclude by the end of April. Selections have been paused until after there is a timetable available for the potential Rutherglen by-election as this is of maximum importance to the Party.
SEC members highlighted the lack of voting for women in certain twinned selections. It was noted that, in future, candidates could face a sanction if they are found to have discouraged votes for women in twinned selections. The General Secretary also noted the upcoming June byelection in Bellshill.
The SEC reviewed the Scottish Labour conference which took place in Edinburgh in February. We highlighted that, compared to CLP delegates, the number of youth CLP delegates to conferences was low. We offered to meet the new General Secretary to discuss how this number could be raised ahead of UK conference in Liverpool.
The next meeting of the SEC will be held on the 10th of June.
- 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.