Letter No 58  by Mike Allott: back to directory

18 September 2014

Fair representation in a new United Kingdom

When John Denham calls for an English Labour party he articulates what for many will be seen as a commonsense approach to the gathering pace of devolution (Close adviser to Ed Miliband calls for creation of an English Labour party, 10 September). With the added voice of David Trimble now warning of the dangers of an independence vote in Northern Ireland, we are perhaps witnessing a constitutional domino effect as the forces of self-determination and self-interest are seemingly realised.

However, at least in the case of the Labour party, it may be productive to take stock of where we are today. Clause I of our current constitution(amended in 1995) states:

“Its purpose is to organise and maintain in parliament and in the country a political Labour party”.

Under clause II, it says we shall be organised by separate committees in

“Scotland, Wales and each of the English regions”.

When the original clause IV was rewritten in 1994, among other things, the aim was to delete the ambiguous commitment to supra-national socialism (see original clause IV, paragraph 6).

Consequently the British Labour party, through its revised constitution, is unambiguously a “national” party with a tacit agreement not to organise in Northern Ireland. And should Scotland vote yes, the Labour party in Scotland would assume the same detached status as the Labour party in the Irish Republic.

So, if it means we have to change our name to become “the Labour party of England, Wales and sister party to the SDLP” then so be it.

Better that than to become a Labour party of little Englanders.

Mike Allott
Eastleigh, Hampshire