Scottish Labour is going for growth - Ian Murray

​Scottish Labour is a pro-growth, pro-business, pro-jobs, pro-worker party. They are inextricably interlinked. That statement in itself is a sign of how far my party has come and how quickly, in just a few years.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar introduces the Labour party’s new report, ‘Building a Business Case for Scotland’Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar introduces the Labour party’s new report, ‘Building a Business Case for Scotland’
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar introduces the Labour party’s new report, ‘Building a Business Case for Scotland’

Having run my own business before entering politics, I understand why we need companies to be successful – so that more people have jobs, and more revenue is raised to pay for the urgent reforms our public services need.

Anas Sarwar and my local MSP colleague Daniel Johnson, who also has a business background, get business. So I’m really pleased to see the party’s focus on economic growth ahead of this week’s annual conference in Glasgow. This is particularly important in Edinburgh, which is the driver of Scotland’s economy.

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For far too long, the SNP has run an anti-growth government, doing things to business – not in consultation with them.

The Deposit Return Scheme, Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) and attempts to ban whisky advertising are just some recent examples.

And the SNP is using income tax as a substitute for growing our economy, which is stifling opportunity. If Scotland’s economy had grown at the same rate as the north-west of England it would now be £11.5 billion bigger.

If you ask most businesses in Scotland, they will express frustration with the Scottish and UK governments. That’s why we need to demonstrate that Scotland is open for business – which is what Labour is firmly focused on.

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The party’s new report, ‘Building a Business Case for Scotland’, identifies the levers already available to Holyrood ministers.

You don’t need to break up the UK to deliver more growth. We need to maximise the potential of Scotland’s workforce with the right routes in place to give people the skills they need, embed tech in society and the delivery of public services, build local packages of tailored support, simplify the institutional landscape and reduce red tape for businesses to create a more streamlined approach.

Scottish Labour has identified three key areas with the most potential: the green economy, tech and financial services, and ‘Brand Scotland’ – our food and drink, creative industries and tourism and hospitality.

Edinburgh is pivotal to success in all these areas. In recent years, under the Tories, the Scotland Office has been too focused on looking inwards – a UK Labour government will adopt a different approach.

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The Scotland Office should be Scotland’s window to the world, working with other UK departments and embassies to promote Brand Scotland internationally and drive inward investment.

A Labour government will treat the arts and creative industries which are such a big part of Edinburgh’s economy as an international asset with clear career paths.

We will work in partnership with the tourism sector to implement a strategy that engages and builds cultural links with key markets including culture, food, and sport and adventure tourism, while developing Edinburgh’s reputation as a conference destination for business visitors through marketing, air routes and local support services.

And we will work with businesses and educational institutions to address the skills gap and drive excellence through specialist training for those in hospitality, tourism and food and drink.

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Our economy needs a kickstart and out young people need the opportunities a vibrant economy brings.

That’s just some examples of the change with Scottish Labour – and why change matters.

Ian Murray MP is Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

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