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Photo by Jordhan Madec on Unsplash

As a co-operator I know that things work best when wealth and power are shared.  This is the approach I take to government.  Across the United Kingdom we should be working together in the best interests of our people not trying to sow the seeds of conflict at every opportunity.

As leader of the Scottish Labour Party, I will be publishing a series of papers on how Scottish Labour working alongside our UK colleagues can deliver a stronger Scotland in a modernising United Kingdom.

Recently, the first of these papers has been published.  This paper deals with how to deliver better government for the UK.

It demonstrates that we can put co-operation and not conflict at the heart of the United Kingdom.  My driving goal has always been to put power, wealth, and opportunity in the hands of the people.  I want institutions that work in the interests of people and communities across the UK.

The devolution settlement should not be about gamesmanship or dispute, it should be about co-operation and shared responsibility.

Sadly, today, devolution is being undermined by bad actors – the SNP and the Tories.

That is why I believe that we should introduce change that will require more collaboration and undo the damage inflicted by the SNP and the Tories.

There should be a legal duty for the governments to co-operate.  This would require joint working between the governments in areas of shared interest.

We are proposing new joint governance councils, these would be designed to heal the bad relationship that exists today and provide a constructive forum for dispute resolution.

Too often, the current UK Government keeps the Scottish Government in the dark, and too often the current Scottish Government deliberately seeks disagreement with the UK Government.  This does not lead to good governance – it undermines the Union.

The joint governance councils we are proposing would be set out in statute and replace the consultative Joint Ministerial Committees which have failed and collapsed.  They would be designed so each nation operates as an equal.

They would bring together the leaders of the UK and the nations on an equal footing, with a finance council to explore the economic challenges we collectively face, and a trade council to unlock opportunity and growth.

The political game-playing of recent years has wounded the devolution settlement.

We need these new rules of engagement to heal it.

Co-operators know that when we share power and wealth things work better.  We need a more co-operative approach to governance in our country to deliver a better outcome for the whole of the United Kingdom.