Local Government and Social Care Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:10 pm on 24th April 2019.

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Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Shadow Minister (Scotland) 6:10 pm, 24th April 2019

Perhaps the hon. Lady is not fully aware that the total managed expenditure of the Scottish Government has been cut by only 1.6%. Unlike councils, they have total discretion over that spending. Councils are heavily ring-fenced by the Scottish Government, which is why core budget cuts to councils have been much higher. That is the reality of the constraints faced by local government compared with the central Government in Edinburgh.

Unless Scotland urgently addresses the problem of over-centralised government from Edinburgh and rediscovers its radical tradition of municipal socialism, it is increasingly likely that Glasgow will fall further behind its peer cities in the UK, such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, as they establish new city region governments centred around directly elected metro mayors. The constitutional debate has been preoccupied with nationalist questions over the distribution of powers between the British Parliament at Westminster and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood; it is now incumbent on us all to break that narcissistic duopoly of Parliaments and strive to rediscover our radical tradition of municipal socialism.

We in the Labour movement are not driven by nationalist sentiment when it comes to constitutional questions about how best to structure government to serve the interests of delivering socialist policy. The atrophy of municipal government in Glasgow is an urgent crisis, which we must address boldly and with imagination. As we consider plans for a constitutional convention in the new future, the question of a municipal as well as a parliamentary route to socialism must be firmly embedded at the heart of it.