Election 2019: the Scottish Labour Party

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Richard Leonard of Scottish Labour makes his party's pitch to the third sector

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20th November 2019 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

The choice before the people in this general election is clear. This election is about who is in government in this country. It is not a proxy vote on constitutional arrangements, and any attempt to reduce it to that is to turn our backs on the real needs of all of those millions of people whose standard of living has been squeezed for ten long years. 

We have witnessed not just a rise in the inequalities of income, we have witnessed a shocking rise in the inequalities of wealth. As the super-rich have got richer almost everyone else has become poorer. Under the Tories there has been a fundamental redistribution of wealth, but it is a redistribution that has gone in precisely the wrong direction.

Everywhere I go in Scotland I see the indecent impact on decent people of Universal Credit: sanctions, the two-child cap and the rape clause, the punitive five week wait for payment which is calculated to deliberately drive people into debt.

Richard Leonard MSP

Richard Leonard MSP

A Labour government will end the shame of foodbank Britain

I have been listening to real life experiences – the feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness, and just how hard it is for families surviving from week to week. Our message during this election campaign to all those people worn down by austerity is that there is new hope with Labour.

A Labour government will not simply mitigate or reform Universal Credit but will scrap Universal Credit altogether once and for all, and build a social security system which treats people with dignity. A Labour government will end the shame of foodbank Britain.

Those in work have seen their pay squeezed, their hours lengthened and attacks on their terms and conditions at work. We stand by those working women and men, and if ever there was an example of why we must create an economy that works not just for the idle rich at the top but an economy that works for all - this is it. A Labour government will raise the minimum hourly wage to £10 for every worker over 16 years old.

The government’s own figures show that two out of three children living in poverty in Scotland are being brought up in a household where at least one adult is in work. It makes me angry that so many children in the fifth richest country in the world are going to school hungry, but it is what also drives me and makes me even more determined to bring about real change.

And so in this election we are offering hope out of despair. Labour will rescue our communities and our people from the hard years of austerity and reverse this rising inequality. Starting from day one, we will invest £70 billion in our public services, with £10bn of that going towards building 120,000 council and social homes in Scotland over the next 10 years.

Further investment that would come from a UK Labour government would mean an additional £3bn per year for Scotland’s public services, which could be spent in Scotland’s schools, colleges, hospitals and local authorities.

This general election is about the kind of society we are and the kind of society we want to be. It is about whether we say that this rise in inequality, this deepening of poverty, this spiral of personal debt, should be allowed to continue. 

So this is not a question of right or left, but a question of right or wrong.

A vote for Labour is a vote for the many, and not the few.

Richard Leonard is leader of the Scottish Labour Party.