Conference in historic vote for federalism

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Scottish Labour Conference today backed federalism in a historic vote.

Party members and trade unionists voted in favour of the establishment of a People's Constitutional Convention, following calls by Kezia Dugdale for a federal UK and a new Act of Union.

The successful vote is the culmination of months of work by Kezia Dugdale.

Scottish Labour believes our country is deeply divided, and the motion passed today states ‘we believe that together we’re stronger’.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley said: 

"This is a historic vote as it commits Labour to Scotland remaining in a federal UK.  

"Our call for a reformed UK isn't about constitutional tinkering - this is about meeting the demand for change.

"One message from the independence and EU referendums was that people wanted more control over their lives. That's why Labour's plan for a People's Constitutional Convention and a federal UK will transform where political and economic power will lie in our country. 

"Labour is calling on the SNP to take 'indyref2' off the agenda and focus on getting the best Brexit deal for Scotland. We know that together we are stronger when the nations of our United Kingdom work together rather than split apart. 

"But neither will we support the Tory status quo. Only Labour has a positive plan to reform our nation and invest in our valued public services." 

Scottish Labour Conference today voted to pass the following motion: 

Conference recognises that the independence referendum on September 18th 2014 resulted in a majority of people voting for Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

Conference notes that the referendum on the European Union in June means that the UK will leave the EU by March 2019.

Conference further notes that the rest of the UK is Scotland’s biggest trading partner with almost £50 billion of goods and services sold to other parts of the UK each year, while trade with the European Union amounts to over £12 billion each year. Both are important trading partners and the loss of either would be damaging to jobs and the Scottish economy.

Conference believes that we should continue to have as close a relationship with Europe as possible. The decision to leave the European Union will result in the most significant changes to the UK’s governance since devolution, and calls into question the protections of workers’ right offered by the EU.

Conference notes the statements of the Prime Minister suggesting that the UK could engage in a race to the bottom on tax and workers’ rights and believes this would be extremely damaging.

Conference believes that decisions about the future of Scotland and the UK are too important to take place behind closed doors in either Westminster or Holyrood.

Conference notes the speech by the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party calling for a constitutional convention and a new Act of Union.

Conference believes that there should be a People’s Constitutional Convention to deliberate on these issues and to explore how politics can be made to work for everyone in Britain.

Conference believes that such a convention will lead to a renewed partnership between Scotland and the other nations of the United Kingdom based on a progressive federal structure for the UK.

Conference therefore resolves to adopt the following as a statement of intent for the Scottish Labour Party:

“The historic mission of the Scottish Labour Party has been to ensure that wealth is redistributed fairly across our country, that power should be widely shared and that decisions should be taken close to people so as to ensure that the views of working people are represented in our country.

It has become clear that our country is not working for working people. Too many feel disenfranchised, disempowered and left behind. The gulf between the Government and the governed cannot be allowed to grow further.

The results of the Scottish independence referendum and the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union showed the appetite for change across our country.

The Labour Party has never been a party of the status quo, and when there is a demand for political, economic and social change, the Labour Party, in Scotland and across the UK, should be the vehicle for that change.

We believe that together, we’re stronger. Today our country is deeply divided, not just by constitutional politics but by economic inequality. To restore faith in our politics, build a more united society and create an economy that works for working people, we believe that we need to create a more federal UK.

Therefore, we call for the UK Labour Party to convene a People’s Constitutional Convention, made up of citizens from across the United Kingdom, and to report before the next UK General Election.”