Scots Labour "must make own policy"

There isn't a leader of the Welsh Labour Party. Carwyn Jones—despite being the most powerful elected Labour politician in the UK—is merely the leader of the Labour Group in the Assembly. He takes his orders from the UK Labour Party.

I wouldn't normally get involved with the internal workings of the Labour Party, but this article in today's [Glasgow] Herald is worth sharing with people in Wales:

Miliband says Scots Labour must make own policy

Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband says the party has to embrace differences north and south of the Border.

On a campaigning visit to Holyrood yesterday to meet MSPs he backed the idea of the Scottish Parliament going its own way from Westminster on legislation, and of the party in Scotland having complete control over policy.

"The policies in Scotland for Scottish Labour should be decided in Scotland – that should not be controversial," he said. "Under my leadership we would lighten up about difference.

"The whole nature of the devolution settlement is accepting that within a United Kingdom we can learn from each other and there will be particular policies and ideas which would be appropriate to Scotland and that Scotland should be able to pursue."

The Herald, 1 July 2010

"Clear red water" was just a clever marketing ploy to inoculate Labour in Wales from the negative effects of the policies that the UK Labour Party was pursuing in London. Just as in Scotland, the reality was that Welsh Labour had no power to make or control its own policy. It could only—and can still only—go as far as the Labour structures in the UK allowed it to go.

Now I don't know whether Ed Miliband will be successful in his leadership bid (although he does seem to be one of the favourites) but what he wants to see happen in Scotland is important, and should make Labour in Wales sit up and take notice.


Imagine a Welsh Labour Party that is able to put the interests of Wales first, rather than having to fit in with policies that always have to be twisted to the right in the hope that Labour can be elected in middle England. Imagine a Labour Party that was free to say that the economic needs of Wales were not always the same as the economic needs of other parts of the UK ... and could therefore propose that we had greater fiscal autonomy in order to tailor policies that were suited to Welsh needs.

But, so far as I can see, Ed Miliband is not proposing to give Welsh Labour that degree of autonomy. Only Scotland. Just as Labour gave Scotland a better devolution settlement than it gave Wales. Just as Labour allowed public spending in Scotland to maintain it's unfair differential with the rest of the UK, while the differential in our share of public spending relative to England fell by half in the thirteen years that Labour were in power at Westminster.

Wake up, Labour politicians in Wales. You're being left behind again. Start demanding that Wales and Scotland are treated equally.

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