Richard Leonard: Here’s how Labour would make life in Scotland better

If the general election results in a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, the UK will be able to end years of austerity, restore support for the Union, tackle the climate crisis and deliver a People’s Vote on Brexit, writes Scottish Labour Party leader Richard Leonard.

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 6:00 am
Richard Leonard is leader of the Scottish Labour Party (Picture: John Devlin)

As I have travelled Scotland in this campaign, I have listened to people’s lived experiences.

From the families coping with the death of loved ones from drugs in Springburn on a Friday night to the workers getting ready for another shift helping the homeless in our capital city, the suffering and misery brought on by nine years of austerity have been inescapable.

Five more years of this would be a disaster for our people and our communities. That is why the scale of Labour’s ambitions is not just to deprive the Tories of their majority.

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Our ambition is to sweep the Tories out of power and replace them with a radical transformative Labour Government.

And for the avoidance of doubt there is no short cut to the election of a Labour Government through any other party.

The only way to elect a Labour Government is to vote Labour on Thursday.

Our manifesto, ‘It’s Time for Real Change’, marks a politics that meets the real needs of the people of this country instead of the narrow interests of the few at the top. And we can start getting to work as early as Friday of this week to start to make that change.

We are going to end in-work poverty, by introducing a £10 an hour minimum wage for all workers above the age of 16 and scrapping Universal Credit, taking 700,000 low paid workers in Scotland out of poverty and helping end homelessness and rough sleeping. We will invest around £100 billion extra in Scotland over two parliamentary terms in the NHS, public transport, housing, education and in transforming our economy through investment. We are going to implement the biggest extension of workers’ rights in history, so introducing employment rights from day one including restored trade union rights.

Only Labour will ensure that the people of Scotland are not just decently paid and secure at work but they are well-housed and cared for by a well-funded NHS. We will build 120,000 council houses across Scotland, and work with housing associations and co-operatives creating 50,000 jobs in the process and rolling back the scourge of private landlordism. And increased NHS spending under a Corbyn government will mean more resources for the NHS in Scotland, if the Scottish Government chooses to use them.

This is the last election where we can make a meaningful attempt to avert the climate change catastrophe. We are the only party capable of tackling the climate emergency, with a Green Industrial Revolution which with an economic plan and an industrial strategy worthy of the name will create tens of thousands of skilled, well-paid jobs across Scotland whilst fundamentally reducing emissions by 2030 in a just transition so that working people and communities are not left behind.

Only a transformative Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn can tackle the climate crisis, end the misery caused by nine years of austerity, deliver a People’s Vote on leaving the EU, rebuild popular support for Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom, because when Labour wins, Scotland wins.