LOTHIAN Labour MSP Neil Findlay has been handed a key job liaising between new Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and the trade unions.
The appointment comes as Ms Dugdale continues building her new-style frontbench team to help restore the party’s fortunes following the general election drubbing in May.
Mr Findlay – who was health spokesman for a spell and stood against Jim Murphy for the leadership last year – will also be part of the party’s “equality” team led by Jenny Marra, covering health, equalities, welfare, care and social inclusion.
There were serious tensions between previous Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and the trade unions, with union leaders among Mr Murphy’s most vociferous critics, quick to demand his resignation immediately after the election defeat.
Mr Murphy hit back, accusing Unite leader Len McCluskey of “destructive behaviour” and claiming it would be “the kiss of death” if Labour fell under the influence of union bosses.
Ms Dugdale has said renewing the Scottish Labour Party’s relationship with the trade unions is “very important” to her.
Mr Findlay said he was delighted to be working on equality and trade union issues. He said: “I am really looking forward to working on a range of policies to address the deeply engrained inequality we see across Scotland and also working with my friends and colleagues in the trade unions – I could not have asked for a better role.”
Speaking at Edinburgh College yesterday, Ms Dugdale set out plans to tax high earners, reform private school funding and regulate businesses to bring about a redistribution of wealth, attainment and power in Scotland.
She said there was “no cheap or easy route to equality”, accused the SNP of “left-wing posturing” and said they must be replaced by “a party with real socialist policies and plan for how to pay for them”.
Ms Dugdale reiterated her pledges to introduce a 50p rate of Scottish income tax for those earning more than £150,000 and end the charitable status of private schools.
She said: “If we’re serious about tackling the gap between the richest and the poorest in society you have to get serious about how we’re going to pay for it. We cannot fund public services unless the wealthy, as well as the rest of us, pay a fair share.
“Not everyone will like it but no-one will be in any doubt in the months ahead about where I stand and what my party stands for.”