Sarwar unveils alternatives to independence
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has called for “joint governance councils” to be formed between the UK and Scottish governments as an alternative to independence.
Giving a speech to the Fabian Society in Westminster, Sarwar also called for further constitutional change with the abolition of the House of Lords, to be replaced by a “Senate of Nations and Regions”.
Sarwar said: “It’s easy for politicians to pretend that it’s only Westminster which is the problem and needs fixed.
“The truth is that every layer of government in our country needs changed so that power is closer to people.
“For people in Lossiemouth or Stornoway, Holyrood feels as remote as Westminster does.
“And it’s not just about shifting powers between different parliaments.
“It’s about what we can do with the powers we have, and ensuring they are closer to the people.”
Scottish Labour are set to launch a series of papers outlining their plans for reform in the UK in the coming months. Sarwar said the papers “will outline how we can strengthen Scotland in a reforming, changing, modernising UK”.
The joint governance councils would be established to avoid “conflicting policy outcomes which lead to wasteful uses of public money are avoided”, by requiring governments to “show that opportunities for joint working were sufficiently explored, and that data sharing was taking place as far as possible”.
Under the proposals for a Senate of Nations and Regions members of the senate would be “elected on a mandate to represent their nation or region”, to replace the “unrepresentative makeup” of the House of Lords.
Sarwar added: “In Scotland, the primary function of our parliament should not be to stoke grievance, but to hold the government of the day to account and scrutinise the management of our public services.
“And the priority of the Scottish Government should not be to find new ways to pick fights, but to take decisions in the best interests of the people of Scotland.
“Unfortunately, today, devolution is being undermined by bad actors – the SNP and the Tories.
“But we can introduce change that will require more collaboration and undo the damage inflicted by the SNP and Tories.”