Thank you Chair and it was an absolute pleasure to join so many of you at Kelvingrove last night. We’re very proud of that museum. Hundreds of thousands of people visit it each year admiring all the art and artefacts – I’m pretty sure there’s some people in this room feeling like an old relic themselves this morning…
I want to begin by thanking you for the support you have given me as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party. And I’m so proud to have your backing as I stand to lead our party in the huge challenges that we face today.
During my campaign to become the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour I have heard a great deal about devolution.
We have rightly discussed our position on devolution from Westminster to Holyrood, and in turn the urgent need to devolve power from Holyrood to our councils and communities. What has been missed has been the need to devolve power to our greatest resource – our membership.
Stephen Low reviews BBC Scotland Investigates: The Fall of Labour (BBC One Scotland, 22 June 2015, available on iPlayer until 27 July).
This was billed as “BBC Scotland investigates”, but you’d have seen more concerted efforts at establishing truth on The Jeremy Kyle Show.
Rehearsed cliché and extremely dubious “history” was followed by a series of “yes he did, no he didn’t” assertions that confused rather than clarified. Anyone, friend or foe, looking for any insight into the travails of the Scottish Labour Party would have come away from this shambles disappointed.
In fairness, presenter Jackie Bird used much softer tones than Mr Kyle usually does as she talked to the variously hurt and damaged individuals on this programme. Then again Jeremy seems able to challenge assertions from interviewees; not something that played a significant part of this travesty. But this was a programme that from the very start had little interest in answers.
“But how,” we were asked by Jackie Bird as she walks round Edinburgh South “did this affluent neighbourhood with its million pound homes become the sole survivor for a party which used to weigh its votes rather than count them?” Question posed, Ms Bird departs Edinburgh never to return, far less suggest an answer.
Jeremy Corbyn is MP for Islington North, and is standing to be Leader of the Labour Party. Writing for Labour Hame today he says we have a mountain to climb to regain trust, and members need a stronger say in shaping policy.
On Thursday I boarded the 06:30 train to Edinburgh to visit Holyrood, our elected representatives, party members and our Scottish campaign team. It was a pleasure to be in Scotland again – even though I didn’t get home til midnight. Labour has a mountain to climb to win in 2020 – and, as is true for UK geography, the biggest mountain is to be found in Scotland.
Our Party has lost its way throughout the UK. We have too often ignored our supporters or been cowed by powerful commercial interests and the press. I want to change that.
In Scotland though this UK-wide trend was intensified by the mistaken decision to share platforms with the Tories, which Scottish colleagues had warned me would be disastrous. Sadly, they were proved right.
Scottish Labour – in its policies and against the backdrop of contemporary Scottish politics – is by any standard definition a unionist party. This strikes me as being an established political reality and to suggest otherwise invites further disillusionment.
Those who reject the label claim the party’s overriding objective is the furtherance of social justice. But by accepting this is best pursued within the framework of the UK, particularly at a time when its existence is fiercely contested, Scottish Labour is a utilitarian unionist party.
Katy Clark, former Labour MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, sets out five troubling facts about CalMac and the privatisation of lifeline services.
Whether Clyde and Hebrides ferry services (CHFS) are privatised or not will be solely up to the SNP and the Scottish Government.
There are five facts that should make ferry users very concerned indeed that the SNP government are serious about privatisation.
First, where the Scottish Government have already made a decision on our ferries they bowed to corporate pressure and opted for privatisation. The publicly owned Northlink ferry services were privatised by the SNP in 2012, with the contract handed over to corporate giants SERCO. This provoked the RMT union into their first industrial action on this service for over 30 years as a result of SERCO’s immediate attacks on jobs and pensions. Passengers also suffered with fare increases and cuts to services and concessionary travel.
Those of us who rely on care and support in our own home, those who want to see the highest standards in our schools and who want to keep our neighbourhoods safe and clean are facing a worrying future. Cuts in government support are directly affecting those public services and our Councils have nowhere to turn. If we are to restore local democratic accountability, protect essential services and prevent further job losses then Scotland urgently needs a new approach to local government finance.
As Leader of Scottish Labour I would work with the current Scottish Government and other parties to find a long term sustainable model to fund our local authorities, however, those in need cannot wait that long. I will demand the immediate restoration of financial control and ask for local accountability to be given back to our directly elected council colleagues.