In a frank interview with Ayesha Hazarika in Progress Magazine, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said that the desire for change which crystallised during the independence referendum is now focusing on the question of anti-austerity policy across Scottish political parties.

Dugdale said:

“Anti-austerity politics is now the centre-ground of Scottish politics because the lesson from the referendum is that there is an overwhelming desire for change.”

“There’s a choice here. We either choose to accept austerity and the Scottish parliament becomes a conveyor belt for Tory cuts or we choose to do things differently. I choose to do things differently.”

The latest edition of Progress – the magazine of Labour modernisers – out this week marks International Women’s Day (Tuesday 8 March) and has been guest edited by Ayesha Hazarika, a comedian, broadcaster and former adviser to Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman.

She is very clear-eyed about how difficult the road ahead is for Scottish Labour. The Scottish National party is polling 53 per cent right now and it may well win every constituency seat. But she has priced that into her long-term plan for the party. ‘The metric of success for me is not about the number of seats, but by May I have to prove a case that people have a much clearer sense of what the Labour party is about in Scotland now.’

Dugdale’s strategy is to renew the party in Scotland through three pillars of work: first, renew the values so there is a clear sense of what the party stands for – and we have seen that in Scottish Labour’s new income tax policy. Second, renew the future focus of the party, which involves fresh faces and asking bigger questions about what Scotland may look like in 20-30 years’ time rather than just looking at a short electoral cycle. And, third, renew the Labour family and the Scottish party’s relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom.

You can read the full interview at