Kezia Dugdale pitches "new federal UK" to deal with UK constitutional crises

Scottish Labour leaders seeks to resist Brexit with new federal set up to renew UK

KEZIA DUGDALE, Scottish Labour leader, has called for a “radical reshaping” federal state to remake the UK with Scotland taking more power over sectors of the economy and social rights now covered by EU laws.

In a speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank in London, Dugdale told the meeting that “a new political settlement” was needed to prevent the forces of nationalism and right-wing populism imposing a “black and white” view of the world.

The new federal set up would however still see a UK parliament hold control of corporation, inheritance tax and pensions.

“If our ideas and values do not win out, the future of our politics is one of right-wing populism and nationalism.” Kezia Dugdale

Dugdale said: “This would mean a radical reshaping of our country along federal lines where every component part of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions – take more responsibility for what happens in their own communities, but where we still maintain the protection of being part of a greater whole as the UK. It would involve significant changes to how central government operates.”

“The UK provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement, and it provides the protection for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger. Something good. Something worth fighting for.”

Dugdale’s proposals however, fall short of former prime minister’s Gordon Brown call earlier this year for the House of Lords to be replaced by an elected senate within a federal system, and the promise made by the No campaign in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum for a home rule settlement with a maximum devolution of powers.

Last week’s YouGov poll for the Times saw 32 per cent of Scottish voters having “no opinion” on Dugdale’s leadership qualities, while 42 per cent thought she was doing poorly. Dugdale is currently jostling with the Scottish Conservatives to appear as the strongest defender of the union and since the 2016 Holyrood elections she has been under pressure from her own party, including deputy leader Alex Rowley, to take a stronger stance on federal solution to the UK’s constitutional crises.

“This would mean a radical reshaping of our country along federal lines where every component part of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions – take more responsibility for what happens in their own communities.” Kezia Dugdale

In her speech, Dugdale drew a connection between Ukip’s rise in the north of England and its driving of the anti-immigration debate in the UK, with the SNP which she stated was “taking advantage” of the Brexit recklessness of Prime Minister Theresa May’s UK Government.

She added: “The UK is in the middle of a historic moment in time that will determine the direction we take for a generation or more. If our ideas and values do not win out, the future of our politics is one of right-wing populism and nationalism. I have never been clearer that this is the time for Labour’s values – values of solidarity, equality and cooperation.

“This weekend, the winning candidate in the Austrian presidential election saw off a challenge from a far-right nationalist. The slogan he won under was ‘people who love their homeland don’t divide it’. I couldn’t agree more. The solutions our country need will not be found in the divisive politics of either the nationalists or the Tories.”

Picture: CommonSpace

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