Labour to 'beef-up leaders role in Scotland


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Indy Politics

Labour is preparing to amend its party rules to clear the way for a new "beefed-up" leader north of the border.

Shadow Scottish Secretary Ann McKechin will tell the party's conference in Liverpool today that Labour's renewal in Scotland will involve the creation of a new role of Scottish Labour Leader.

Although Iain Gray and his Holyrood predecessors were informally known as Scottish Labour leader, their official title was Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament.

The creation of the new fully devolved role requires a vote from the UK party to amend its rule book, the party's governing document.

The vote, expected later this week, will clear the way for Scottish politicians to debate the full duties and responsibilities of the new leader at their own conference next month.

Living standards and the economy are expected to be top of the new leader's agenda.

Speaking ahead of the Labour Party conference starting today, Ms McKechin said: "I am not surprised there is such a strong Scottish presence at the conference from MPs, MSPs, and party members.

"These are tough times and political parties need serious responses to the economic and unemployment crisis we see at home and abroad.

"Labour is going to show that it will be the party of change, from the economy to the welfare system and the opportunities for the next generation.

"We will also be doing some changing ourselves, renewing our party to create a new, beefed-up role of Scottish Labour Leader.

"But most of all this week we will be talking about the quiet crisis going on for families who face their living standards squeezed and see chances for their children under threat.

"In Scotland, we face the double whammy of a Tory government that is cutting too far, too fast and an SNP government whose economic policy isn't working.

"Labour will challenge the assumptions about how we do politics in this country, listening hard to people and bringing forward the ideas and plans to grow the economy, get people back to work and ensure the next generation has chances better than those that have gone before."

Labour MP for Glasgow North West John Robertson, who sits on the House of Commons energy committee, added: "There is no doubt that families are being ripped off by energy companies who constantly pile on double-figure rises. In some cases prices are up by 20% in just a year.

"We need stronger government intervention to protect consumers from energy companies out to make a fast buck.

"The energy companies cannot justify these kind of rises and as the weather starts to get colder, things are only going to get worse.

"The Government is sitting on its hands as people fall into fuel poverty.

"The fact the energy companies effectively operate as a cartel is bad enough, but the Tories are actively sitting it out when they should be taking urgent and radical action."