Bank Holiday Saturday (for me as a sassenach) was spent in Arbroath alongside Elaine Smith MSP speaking to a group of Labour CLP activists from four surrounding constituencies about renewing Labour Party democracy in the wake of the LabOUR Commission report. Meanwhile, the rest of the locals were enjoying Arbroath's celebrated Seafest (illustrated).
Marlyn Glen MSP for North East Scotland was also with us and took the opportunity to alert all concerned to proposed visits by Wendy Alexander MSP the unopposed Leader-elect of the Scottish Labour Party to Aberdeen and Dundee this week. Not a single CLP secretary present was aware of the proposed visits.
Even more worrying when Elaine and I had started our contributions was the apparent level of ignorance about Gordon Brown's proposals, 'Extending and renewing party democracy', and the discovery that none of the CLPs represented was planning to send a delegate to Labour's 2007 Annual Conference.
I urged CLPs to get hold of the proposals and submit comments by 14 September. I tipped them off about the Hackney North stance supporting GB's Proposals 1-4, and 6-7, but reject 5 on Contemporary Resolutions, and add an 8th to apply OMOV to NPF elections in future, hat-tip Luke Akehurst. To shed light on comments about the GB proposals, a version has been posted on the Internet for Labour Party members only. (Send me your email address if you want to know more.)
There was general agreement that party renewal was the key to winning back support north of the border, inspired perhaps by the central tenet of the Declaration of Arbroath - 6 April 1320
"For, so long as a hundred remain alive, we will never in any degree be subject to the dominion of the English. Since not for glory, riches or honours do we fight, but for freedom alone, which no man loses but with his life."
But it was felt this was unlikely to be the top down variety promised by Alexander for the Scottish Labour Party Conference next spring.