Scottish By-elections, supporting striking workers, and demand for a ceasefire – SEC report-back


“We raised Keir Starmer’s response to the siege of Gaza… Anas Sarwar highlighted that his position on Starmer’s comments was now on the record. He reaffirmed his opposition to Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

By Coll McCail and Lauren Harper, Scottish Labour’s Executive Committee (SEC) Youth Representatives 

The Scottish Executive Committee met on Saturday the 11th of November for the first time since June. September’s meeting had been cancelled on account of the demand created by the Rutherglen by-election.

Anas Sarwar reported a positive mood within the Party following the Michael Shanks’ victory in the Rutherglen by-election and described the result as seismic. The considerable efforts of Scottish Labour’s activists and staff team during the by-election were noted. The Scottish leader also reported recent positive polling and drew comparison between the Tories’ clown show in Manchester and a successful Labour conference in Liverpool. Commenting on the Middle East, Sarwar reiterated his call for a ceasefire and the release of hostages. In the coming month, said Sarwar, Scottish Labour will focus on policy development ahead of the general election. 

Anas Sarwar was asked questions relating to the Party’s position on the devolution of employment law. He reaffirmed that Scottish Labour continues to support the devolution of employment law to Holyrood. This, he said, was a two stage process. The first is Labour’s new deal for working people. The second stage involves entrenching the protections included in the new deal through devolution. Scottish Labour MSPs support on picket lines was noted and Sarwar reiterated his support for striking workers. It was suggested to Sarwar that the importance of vocal support for striking workers be reiterated to the Party south of the border.

We raised Keir Starmer’s response to the siege of Gaza. In response, Anas Sarwar highlighted that his position on Starmer’s comments was now on the record. He reaffirmed his opposition to Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people. 

We asked for clarity regarding whether CLPs were allowed to discuss the siege of Gaza or whether such motions would be ruled ‘out of order’, as prior instruction from the Party has indicated. Sarwar said that, as an internationalist party, members should submit motions and that the Party would be as open about this as possible. 

We asked whether Scottish Labour MPs would support the SNPs ceasefire motion at Westminster in line with Scottish Labour’s position. Anas reaffirmed his support for a ceasefire but did not indicate how Scottish Labour MPs would vote. 

We also raised the issue of student homelessness and the fact further postgraduate education is inaccessible to many working class young people. Against this backdrop, we pointed out Labour’s lacking offer to young people. Anas agreed that we need to give people reasons to vote Labour rather than simply being an alternative to SNP and Conservative chaos. 

Reports were submitted highlighting the work of Labour MSPs in Holyrood and MPs in Westminster. During the women’s committee report, concerns were raised about a lack of resources for the committee. 

The Scottish General Secretary reported that the last two twinned selections, suspended on account of the Rutherglen by-election, have begun. Another eight selections have been initiated under the non-twinned selection process. By the end of November, candidates should be selected for 39 seats. It was raised that given positive polling, Party’s target seats may need to be reevaluated. Positive progress was reported at the Scottish Labour conference, which will take place between the 16th and 18th of February 2024 in Glasgow.

We asked whether, following rule changes to the structure of CLP executive committees passed at the UK Labour conference, Scottish CLPs needed to change too or whether this would require a change in the Scottish rulebook. It was indicated that the change does indeed affect Scotland.

The SEC will meet once more in January before the Scottish conference. 

Featured image: Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar speaks at Labour Party Conference 2023. Photo credit: Anas Sarwar/Twitter

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