THE Electoral Commission have weighed in on whether Scottish Labour can be considered a political party – or if they are simply a branch office of the UK one.

The political watchdog gave its verdict after being asked by a National reader to clarify whether it was Labour, or “Scottish Labour”, which is standing a candidate in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

It came after The National reported on Jackie Baillie’s insistence that it was Scottish Labour running the show at that by-election, and not the party leadership in London.

This paper shared its story on social media, along with a quote from Baillie saying: “Look this is the Scottish party that is running this by-election.”

In response, Twitter user @Porrohman asked the Electoral Commission for clarification.

They wrote: “@ElectoralCommUK Can you please do something about this lie that is being perpetuated by @UKLabour that a different party and not them is standing for elections in Scotland?

“There is no such party as @ScottishLabour and to pretend there is, surely must be illegal?”

Responding on Friday, the commission appeared to confirm that Scottish Labour is not a party, but simply an “optional identity mark” used by UK Labour.

The agency wrote on Twitter: “Hi there, thanks for getting in touch. As well as registering a party name, political parties can also register 12 descriptions and three emblems to use on ballot papers at UK elections.

“A description is an optional identity mark which can be used instead of the party name on most election ballot papers. It is for a party to choose whether or not it uses a description or its party name. These descriptions can include the word ‘Scottish’.

“For elections to the Scottish Parliament specifically, parties must use the party name on ballot papers but are allowed to add the word ‘Scottish’ to their party names.

“Labour Party are registered to contest elections in England, Scotland and Wales.”

The Electoral Commission then shared a link to Labour’s register entry – which lists “Scottish Labour Party”, “Scottish Labour Party Candidate”, “Glasgow Labour”, and “Aberdeen Labour” as descriptions used by the central UK party.

"Scottish Labour Party" also appears under the list of "accounting units" of the wider UK party. The unit's given address is in England, at Labour Central, Kings Manor, Newcastle, NE1 6PA.

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The agency’s intervention comes after Anas Sarwar, the leader of the Scottish Labour group, said suggestions that Scottish Labour is not a party in its own right were just a “conspiracy theory”.

Asked in April how he would respond to the suggestion that Scottish Labour is not a real party, Sarwar told The National: “I would laugh at it. I think people need to spend a little less time on social media with their conspiracy theories and a little bit more time in the real world.”

The Electoral Commission’s intervention also comes after reports that the UK Labour team had “integrated” Scottish Labour’s communications and backroom staff with its own.

The Times also reported that Keir Starmer had “sacked Richard Leonard”, the former leader of the Scottish group, and handed Sarwar’s team £1 million in order to target 25 Westminster seats at the next General Election.

Labour, and Scottish Labour, have been asked for comment.