The problem with Dugdale’s federal UK plan is Labour are unelectable
I’m on record for saying I could live with the idea of a federal UK. Not because it is my ideal solution to the constitution crisis we face in Scotland, no my personal ideal solution would be independence.
I’m open to a true federal UK because I think it’s the solution that won’t split Scotland down the middle, unlike the other two options of full independence and keeping the status quo. A comfortable majority of Scotland could support a well thought out federal model if it included staying in the EEA.
I would prefer independence but I also understand that I’m not the King of Scotland and in a democracy we need to compromise.
So, I think Kezia Dugdale should be given some credit for actually trying to deliver that compromise to people on opposing sides of the Brexit/Indy debates.
That said, while the plan is laudable the implementation of it is highly unlikely.
In recent weeks we have talked about how Scottish Labour have shot themselves in the foot by ruling out full independence. It is a strategy that cuts them off from half of the voting population in Scotland and also removes a bargaining chip that would make their fedUK goals more likely. The threat of Scotland leaving the UK is the most powerful political tool Kezia has for leveraging her reform ideas. Rejecting that lever is politically naive.
Also, we have addressed the problems with Kezia’s form of federalism before. Namely that it comes across as more of a last ditch desperate effort to resurrect Labour’s waning powers than any heartfelt long-held belief. Labour’s proposals to the Smith Commission fell well short of what you would expect from a party who supported federalism. While their current proposals are not radical enough.
That said, when we published our previous blog on the issue, we didn’t mention the main problem with Kezia’s plan: Labour are currently not electable.
We were reminded of this problem this week, after reading two high profile reports.
The first was a report by respected political scientist John Curtice that talked of the demise of Labour’s electoral chances. The abstract read:
The second report was from Labour’s own Fabian Society suggesting there is no chance of Labour being elected unless it shares power with another party (most obviously the SNP, who might not support federalism).
Labour have ruled out any pact with the SNP already as it kills their hopes in England.
That the Fabians are proposing this as a solution highlights that they know that Scottish Labour are going to be wiped out again at the next general election. So, in the only scenario that the Fabians can see Labour in government, the branch of Labour currently proposing federalism will have next to zero elected MPs.
So, the problem is not that federalism isn’t a reasonable solution to the constitutional crisis. The problem is that the main exponent of it is a branch office boss of an unelectable party. A party who, by their own admission, are reliant on a coalition with a pro-independence party for even a chance of a whiff of power. A party who showed no interest in federalism until Brexit happened and anything-but-indy desperation kicked in.
So, the question is, how can Kezia deliver her plan if Labour are not likely to form a government? If she can’t deliver the plan, and the Tories have no political pressure to do so, then who will?