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
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
Better that than to become a Labour party of little
See the online version
of this letter at:
• The Guardian, Saturday 18 September 2014