Scottish Labour conference opens with attack on local budget cuts

By Jeevan Farthing

Scottish Labour’s annual conference started at 10am on Friday 16 February, with introductory addressess to the conference floor from George Redmond, Leader of the Glasgow Labour group; Scott Arthur, Chair of the Scottish Labour Party; and John Paul McHugh, the party’s Scottish General Secretary.

Redmond said the SNP were succumbing to their “Edinburgh taskmasters” and overseeing “managed decline”. Yesterday, SNP and Green councillors passed a budget which will see Glasgow City Council face a £107 million shortfall over the next three years. Anas Sarwar, the leader of Scottish Labour, is also expected to criticse the cuts in his address to conference at 2pm this afternoon.

Arthur followed Redmond’s criticism of local politics with an internationalist plea, playing a video clip from the organisation Medical Aid for Palestinians, which will be the official charity for this conference. It has been noted that Melanie Ward, who runs the charity, recently ran for selection as a Labour candidate. Scottish Labour and UK Labour have so far adopted different messaging on Gaza, with UK leader Starmer calling for a “sustainable ceasefire”, whereas Sarwar has gone further, calling for an immediate ceasefire. Sarwar today downplayed these divergent positions, saying both he and Starmer want an end to violence in the region. Gaza will be debated at the conference tomorrow afternoon – it is also expected that a pro-Palestine demonstration will march to the Scottish Exhibition Centre.

The conference lasts until 5pm today, with Roz Foyer, STUC General Secretary, also making an address at 4.15pm. So far, Ed Miliband, former leader of UK Labour and current Shadow Secretary of State for Energy Security, has already made an unannounced appearance on a panel debate discussing a “fairer, greener Scotland”, and claimed Labour will make Scotland the “clean energy superpower of the UK” through greater involvement of trade unions in a just transition, and the creation of a publicly owned energy company, GB Energy, which will be headquartered in Scotland.


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