I’ve wondered for a while about what might happen to the Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat parties in Scotland in the event of a YES vote. So I had a look at their constitutions. I was thinking about this as I wondered of it might be part of what is driving the behaviour of the members and people who belong to those parties.
Labour (Sourced from http://www.labourcounts.com/constitution.htm)
Clause 2 – Party Structure and Affiliated Organisations
(d) In Scotland, Wales and each of the English regions there shall be established: a Scottish Labour, Wales Labour or regional party office; a Scottish executive, Welsh executive or regional board; and a European constituency labour party. There may also be established a Scottish, Welsh or regional women’s committee.
Clause 3 – The Party’s Financial Scheme
1 The party has adopted and registered with the Electoral Commission a financial scheme, whereby the party consists of a central organisation and separate accounting units.
2 The following shall be accounting units under the financial scheme:
(b) the Scottish Labour Party
(c) Wales Labour
(d) the National Organisation of Labour Students (‘NOLS’)
(e) the Association of Labour Councillors (‘ALC’)
(and others….. I snipped at this point as the relevant bits are included)
This seems to me to state very clearly that the Scottish Labour Party is a branch of the UK Labour Party. So where would that leave the Scottish Party following a “YES” vote? It doesn’t seem very likely that it could continue in its present form. That would be akin to a political party in France being no more than a branch of a German political party. So if you think on this a little further – what behaviours will this be driving in those who currently are Labour MPs and Labour MSPs? How will members of the Labour party in Scotland be thinking? Currently, their subscriptions are going to the UK party which has an accounting unit in Scotland. Will these members be keen to continue to pay the subscriptions to a UK party if Scotland is independent? Where will the money go?
If the political organisation which they belong to will no longer be able to exist (in its current form) in the newly independent Scotland maybe that explains why they are so keen to preserve the current set-up. Even down to Labour politicians preferring to see Scotland governed by a Tory government. An interesting thought?
Conservative (actually The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
Not as simple to find the full constitution for this body as it’s not on any of their websites. So I called them and asked for a copy. When I get it I’ll update this post. Wikipedia (not a 100% reliable source) states :
So, like Labour, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party seems to be a branch of a British party. I guess that means all the same legal type questions will arise for them in the event of a YES vote.
10 out of 10 for having their constitution downloadable form their website. The Scottish section though was last updated in 2009. Interestingly they are a “federal party”. I’m not sure quite what that means in practice or in legal terms following a YES vote. Their constitution says:
The name of the Party shall be the Scottish Liberal Democrats (hereinafter called “the Party”).
The Party shall be an independent constituent part of a federation consisting of the Party, the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and the English Liberal Democrats. The provisions of the Federal Party’s constitution shall apply in Scotland in the manner therein specified.
So – are they then a legal entity as far as Scotland is concerned? If they’re not, than as with Labour and Conservatives all the same questions about where the money goes from membership and what their MPs actually legally belong to in an independent Scotland apply.
Just looking at the “big three” raises interesting questions. I suppose in many ways similar questions can be posed to many other organisations, including charities.
All thoughts and comments welcomed.