Kezia Dugdale: ‘Well-heeled’ will carry burden for policies

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has attacked the cutting of council budgets. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has attacked the cutting of council budgets. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Labour will make the “well-heeled” pay for its policies if it is elected to become the next Scottish Government, leader Kezia Dugdale has confirmed.

Ms Dugdale addressed an audience of professionals at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in George Street, and warned that many of them will have to pay for the changes Labour wants to bring about in Scotland.

I think it’s going to be the most exciting election in the history of our parliament.

Kezia Dugdale

She said the election in May is not the “foregone conclusion” that Labour’s plummeting poll ratings suggest.

“The more powerful our Scottish Parliament becomes, the more vulnerable the status quo looks,” the Lothian MSP said.

“The commentators are already wearily writing that this election is a foregone conclusion. I disagree.

“I think it’s going to be the most exciting election in the history of our parliament.

“The power held by our parliament, and by our government, is greater than ever, and so too are the possibilities for political change in Scotland.

“The status quo is no longer something that those in Bute House must passively accept, but it is something they are actively choosing.”

She said the SNP government has “paradoxically” become more cautious as it has become more powerful, preferring to manage the status quo rather than advocate the changes that Labour has proposed.

Labour has pledged to maintain the current level of Air Passenger Duty to help first-time buyers, bring back the 50p rate of income tax, and offered £1000 to every poor school pupil under its Fair Start Fund.

She said: “The hard truth of politics – that change doesn’t come for free – has arrived in Scotland.

“So who will pay? I’m going to say something really brave to this well-heeled Edinburgh audience – it’s going to have to be many of you.

“It is right that everyone pays something towards the services they receive. The shared responsibility of taxes is one of the things that binds us together as society.

“However, it is morally and economically right that the majority of the burden for changes we want to see has to be carried by those who can most afford to pay.”

She added: “Expect Scottish Labour to surprise you. To challenge the status quo, challenge the assumptions about what is inevitable in Scottish politics, and, I believe, confound people’s expectations in May.

“I’m determined to keep setting out a vision of how things can and will be different in tomorrow’s Scotland. A future filled with possibility – a strong dynamic economy built by its people. The greatest natural resource it has.”

Ms Dugdale also attacked the SNP’s “absurd” approach to school funding which has resulted in one school receiving special funding in a shared campus with another that lost out.

She visited Cochrane Castle and St David’s primary schools, which share a campus in Renfrewshire. Both educate poor children but only one receives additional support, she said.