KEZIA Dugdale has hailed Labour’s Holyrood manifesto as a return to the party’s roots.
The policy package launched at the Grassmarket Community Project includes pledges to increase spending on public services and stop the cuts; protect budgets for health, education, policing and culture; and raise the top rate of income tax to 50p.
Ms Dugdale said: “This is a manifesto in the best traditions of the Labour Party. This plan for a Labour government is Labour at our boldest best.
“It is the return of the Labour Party that gave us the NHS, the minimum wage, the Labour Party that established the Scottish Parliament.
“Our manifesto isn’t about the politician on the front cover. Our manifesto is about the people of Scotland. It is about the powers that Scotland holds. It is about the potential of our nation.”
The Scottish Labour leader claimed the failure of other parties to use Holyrood’s new tax powers undermined their manifesto promises.
“We’re honest about the scale of the challenge, and the opportunity to do things differently. We all benefit from better public services and I believe people are willing to pay, together, to protect them and improve them, provided they know that the richest pay their fair share. “
She said Labour would tax the richest one per cent so it could invest in schools and stop the cuts to the NHS and public services.
She promised a “new revolution in childcare” with plans to fund a breakfast club in every primary school and after-school sports for every secondary school.
The manifesto says only Labour offers an alternative to austerity, and it quotes independent expert IPPR Scotland which calculated that the difference between Labour and SNP plans was nearly £1 billion of cuts a year by the end of the next parliament.
It also promises appointments at a GP surgery guaranteed within 48 hours; 60,000 new affordable homes; a ban on fracking; a doubling of the maternity grant for new mums to lift children out of poverty; help for first-time buyers saving for a deposit; and an end to the council tax, with a new system where Labour says 80 per cent of households will pay less.
It also rules out another independence referendum for the next parliament and commits the party to opposing the renewal of Trident “subject to a Defence Diversification Agency guaranteeing the retention of all existing jobs”.