Dugdale: civil society must do more for the poor

Kezia dugdale cropped

Third sector – along with churches and trade unions – must "find its voice", says Dugdale

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20th August 2015 by Graham Martin 2 Comments

Civil society must do more to speak up for the disadvantaged, according to new Scottish labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

She said charities, along with churches and trade unions, must “find their voice” in challenging government and “the new establishment”.

With billions of pounds worth of new powers over tax and welfare coming to Holyrood, she said, nobody in Scottish politics or public life will be able to duck hard choices.

Speaking at Edinburgh College, the new Labour leader railed against a “new establishment” – though she did not specify what this consisted of.

She said: “Devolution has brought government closer to civil society – but a close relationship should not mean a comfortable relationship. 

Unions, business, academics, charities and campaigners must find a louder voice

“If our powerful parliament is to be a success then unions, business, academics, charities and campaigners must find a louder voice. 

“There is a powerful new establishment in Scotland. 

“It dominates government, public life, both parliaments. Its premise is that shared identity means shared interest.

“But the interests of the rich and the poor, those sat in the boardroom and those stood on shop floor, are not always aligned.”

Perhaps influenced by the success of UK Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, Dugdale staked a claim on traditional Labour territory when she called for redistribution of wealth.

She said: “I would keep universal services and the gains of devolution. But let’s be clear we cannot have a more equal society without redistribution. 

“We cannot fund public services unless the wealthy, as well as the rest of us, pay a fair share.  

“Public services that work well for the advantaged aren’t necessarily right for the disadvantaged. 

“These are arguments that have long been central to political debate in Westminster. 

“Our new tax and welfare powers mean that debate, those political choices, are coming north. 

“I’m under no illusions that challenging the new Scottish establishment, with radical policies on redistribution and reform, will provoke a reaction. 

“I know that I will face the personal attacks that have become an unfortunate but unavoidable fact of political life in Scotland. 

“I believe those who indulge in such attacks will only harm their own cause. 

“And however hard my task is, and however difficult the months and years ahead will be for Scottish Labour, it is nothing compared to the struggle faced by working-class Scots every day, the people we stand for.”

20th August 2015 by Miss Guided

That's rich (excuse the pun) coming from a Labour party that sat on their hands when they had a chance to vote against the welfare "reforms".

21st August 2015 by Hetty

It is a tad rich indeed, to say that everyone else should be working harder to help the poor when Labour voted for welfare reform, and the UK governments austerity, ie class war policies. Hmmm, pot, kettle Kes!