Scotland in the UK : Within a federal system

Speech at the Scottish Labour Party 2017 conference


Good morning, conference.

Lesley Brennan. Dundee CLP.

I am a Dundee Labour councillor, and recently elected to the Partyís Scottish Executive Committee representing members in the North East and the Highland and Islands.

I fully support this motionís statement of intent.

We must be championing a radical federal structure to ensure that the nations and regions have the powers necessary to bring about radical, political responses to meet local needs.

The Red Paper Collective has been championing a radical federal vision for the UK for over five years.

As John Trickett says,

ďThe Tories and the Nationalists both offer a stale debate saying itís a choice between tying Scotlandís fate to the old London based British Establishment or else radical separation from our friends, neighbours, brothers and sisters south of the border.Ē

We reject this binary choice as our choice is socialism, which requires three things:

1. a federal solution for Britain which breaks up the centralised power of the British Westminster elite and hands decision making about local matters to local people;

2. redistribution of wealth and power so that we can rebuild a socially just country based on a strong economy in every region and nation of the country and not just in a few affluent areas; and

3. the cooperation and solidarity between all the parts of the country which will mean the pooling of common resources to make sure that there is more equity.

A new redistribution system is desperately needed across the UK, especially with the risk of automation.

Taxes associated with employees raise three times as much as the combined revenue raised from companies or wealth.

Worse than this, the total taxes collected from tobacco and spirits is more than the total revenue collected from inheritance and capital gains.

Moreover, Scotlandís public purse will need a Labour Government in 2020 to implement a radical redistribution system for a federal UK.

Since 2016/17, the block grant from Westminster accounts for about half of the Scottish Governmentís budget, as the Scottish Parliament now has responsibility for a number of taxes including.

So, given these changes, the block grant has to be adjusted accordingly.

The adjustment method for the block grant was very contentious between the Tories at Westminster and the Scottish Government.

Whilst this was very technical, the kicker is the Scottish Government and the UK Government reached agreement on how to adjust the grant for a transitional period, but it ends in 2021/22.

The Labour Party needs to proactively address this as the negotiation on the post 2021/22 block grant adjustment will fuel further SNP grievance and another referendum possibly indyref3!

Indyref and Brexit demonstrate people want change.

But letís now step into othersí frames; people want real tangible change that brings benefits to them and their families: more housing, better jobs, and increased quality of life.

Thankfully, to deliver this, we do not need to revise an ancient law.

Letís focus our efforts on radically restructuring politics to give people control of the decisions and investment which affect them, as detailed in the statement of intent.