Devolution – Not Just a Buzzword, and Not Just for Grown Ups

Ellie Anderson discusses the importance of devolution.

Devolution is a core principle of the Labour movement. At its heart it is very simple - decisions about people’s lives should be made members of those communities and as close to those communities as possible.

In Constitutional terms it is why our Party brought forward the referendums that brought the Senedd to Cardiff, and the Holyrood Parliament to Edinburgh. And it is why we continue to push for more, and better, devolution for our nations and regions.

For Labour’s internal organisation it is also simple - in theory at least. If you’re a member in Southend you should decide your own local council candidates. Matters concerning Scottish Labour’s policies should be settled by Scottish members. Things must not be dictated from afar. 

But sometimes our Party forgets to practice what it preaches. A simple case of do as I say, but not necessarily as I do. There’s a word for that.

When it comes to our internal democracy, it is easy at times to get bogged down in certain debates. But our principles need to remain firm. We are the Party of devolution. We respect this principle. We should practice what we preach and enact it within our own structures.

Which is why I, as a Welsh activist, share the frustrations of other Young Labour members in Wales and Scotland - that changes to the formation of our national Young Labour groups should never have been decided by the Labour’s UK-wide National Executive Committee. 

The change has meant that our representative on the UK-wide committee will also be chair of our national group. This completely undermines the existing constitutions of Welsh Young Labour and Scottish Young Labour and side-steps the Scottish Executive Committee. And the decision to overrule our constitutions was made nearer to Victoria tube station than to either Selkirk or Chepstow.

We should say it loud and say it clear - no nation’s Labour Party should just be a branch office, always told what to do by those in Westminster. We need to make our own decisions. We wouldn’t stand for this if it were any other policy, and it isn’t acceptable here. 

Changes to Welsh Young Labour need to be made by Welsh young members. And changes to Scottish Young Labour need to be made by Scottish young members. This isn’t tricky - and yet here we are. 

The word’s hypocrisy. We need to get our own house in order - from Young Labour all the way through our internal structures - to maintain our credibility. Devolution is one of our core principles. We’ve got to act like it.

Eluned Anderson is an undergrad at Liverpool University, but grew up in Cardiff . She is currently running to be Chair of Young Labour.

She tweets at  @ElunedAnderson.

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