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University of Bath

The Future of Scottish Labour: Dissensus and Consensus

A project examining the Scottish Labour Party, the views of its members, and areas of consensus and disagreement.

In recent years, the Scottish Labour Party (SLP) has lost its once dominant position in Scottish politics. It faces multiple political challenges, relating both to cleavages in Scottish politics over the constitution and Brexit, and to divisions within the party itself over its leadership and direction, and intra-party relations with the United Kingdom Labour Party.

Drawing upon a mixture of semi-structured elite interviews with key figures within the party hierarchy and focus groups with grassroots activists, this project will examine the views of members across all levels of the SLP and identifies areas of consensus and disagreement, the latter largely mapping onto a distinction between party workers and politicians, on the one hand, and activists and trade unionists, on the other.

The project also hopes to generate important insights into the challenges, internal and external, that face contemporary social democratic parties competing in a multi-dimensional, multi-level political space with both civic nationalist challengers and conservative defenders of the constitutional status quo.

Project team