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Rowley was sacked over control issue

Alex Rowley was sacked as general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party after setting out proposals for giving it more freedom from London control.

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He made clear his view that the party, having modernised Scotland's political institutions, now had to change its own structure. Labour sources confirmed last night that this was one of the factors which led to Mr Rowley being summoned to Millbank in London, where he was told the party had nowhere for him in its future planning. He was then invited to resign, a decision which provoked anger in Scotland and private expressions of support from his mentor, Chancellor Gordon Brown, and First Minister Donald Dewar. Some in the Labour Party, however, made clear that Mr Rowley had been moved not just because of his restructuring ambitions. ''Some took the view he was the wrong appointment from the very start,'' one activist said. ''He was shoved in by Gordon Brown when others could have better fitted the bill.'' Mr Rowley told The Herald that after the election there had been a discussion about the future direction of the party. ''This discussion continued for a couple of weeks and I decided it was best for me to leave.'' He added: ''I am not getting into a debate about this now. But there is a discussion for the Labour Party in Scotland to hold. If you modernise the political institutions it is only natural to see how the party organisation has to change. You ask yourself if the party is still in line with the political institutions. All I have ever said is that there needs to be far greater discussion about that.'' Saying it would be wrong to go into detail, Mr Rowley said ''a number of factors'' were involved in his departure from the party after only a year in the job. ''I think the party has to change quite a lot. We have to have a good look at this and also at how policy is made. There must be a real partnership in power in Scotland. We have the Scottish Policy Forum and that can be seen as positive. But we also need to look at the membership and how it can have a greater say. ''I point to the fact that 30,000 members is not something to be proud of. We need to increase the membership. ''I flagged up at the Scottish conference that there should be a root and branch rethink about the party organisation in Scotland. But it became apparent in recent weeks and months that this was going to be difficult. I won't go into the reasons, but I decided it was in my best interests to leave. ''Now I have a number of things to consider and I have been having discussions with various people. There are several options for me to consider. But in the meantime I will be taking a well-earned rest.'' Mr Rowley said Mr Dewar had been ''very supportive'', but, asked about the role of John Rafferty, the strategist who has been accused of ousting him from the general secretaryship, replied: ''I am not prepared to comment on this at all.'' He said: ''I don't want any negativism attributed to me. I just want to move on and believe I can still play a part in Scottish Labour politics. I was brought up in the Labour Party and it is bigger than any one individual. The next few years will be a very exciting time of change and I want to play a role in that for the Scottish Labour Party.''

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