GORDON Brown has launched a new “alliance” of Labour politicians calling for reform of the UK “to deal with the current economic and social challenges faced in every area of our country.”
The new group — unveiled at a rally in Edinburgh organised by the former prime minister’s Our Scottish Future think tank — includes Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.
The launch of the Alliance for Radical Democratic Change comes six months after a report released by Mr Brown on the future of the UK, which included 40 recommendations for “constitutional, social, economic and political reform.”
They included scrapping the House of Lords, and replacing it with an Assembly Of The Regions And Nations, with an “enhanced Scottish representation” and a “constitutional role to protect the devolution settlement.”
It also called for “devolution within Scotland” with new directly elected mayors or provosts for Scotland’s major cities, and Scottish representation on UK national bodies, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Bank of England, and Ofgem.
In a joint mission statement released ahead of Thursday's rally, the Alliance said: “There is a UK-wide demand for change.
“We recognise the urgent need for working together – locally, regionally and nationally across the UK – to reform our constitution so we can deal with the current economic and social challenges faced in every area of our country.
“To that effect we are creating the Alliance for Radical Democratic Change to implement wide-ranging proposals for the reform of the UK – to end the centralisation of power in Whitehall and Westminster, to devolve effective economic and social powers to the regions and nations, to make our cities and regions centres of initiative for full employment and good jobs, and to ensure co-ordination between all levels of government to achieve a fairer, greener and wealthier Britain, in which each nation and region enjoys the respect it deserves.”
READ MORE: UK Government to take Covid Inquiry to court
Mr Burnham said: “Just like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the north of England has suffered from an over-concentration of political and economic power in the South East of the UK.
“This is changing with the devolution of power out of Westminster, but in our experience it works best when it goes deep.
“Places in all parts of the UK should have the ability to build a better future from the bottom up and collaborate with neighbours.”
The SNP MSP Stuart McMillan was less enthusiastic.
"Gordon Brown must think people across Scotland are daft if he believes they will swallow another round of empty promises and hollow words from the same Labour party working hand-in-glove with the Tories to attack devolution and block further powers,” he said.
"Devolution and Scottish democracy has never been under such significant threat by a Tory UK government intent on destroying Scotland's voice at all costs — and Keir Starmer's right wing Labour party is just as responsible as they style themselves as 'real conservatives' in a hope to win over the red wall in England."
The Alba Party’s Chris McEleny said: “The irony of many Scots will not be lost on a gathering of Labour party leaders calling for a more democratic UK when they are all opposed to the people of Scotland’s democratic right to determine the form of governance that best suits us.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton welcomed the alliance: “Fixing our broken politics is an important part of our plans to create a Scotland that is industrious, innovative and internationalist of outlook."
Ahead of the rally Mr Drakeford met with Humza Yousaf in St Andrew's House.
The Scottish Government said the two men spoke about devolution and the "urgent need for the UK Government to end repeated breaches of the Sewel Convention and engage in good faith in Common Frameworks, designed to manage different policy approaches across the UK following EU exit."