This year we face an important choice.
‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
There is no way to avoid the politicians – myself included! – debating, cross-examining and yes even arguing over the future of the nation.
I believe that Scots should vote no in September. Many will disagree with me, but I want to tell you why my ambition for Scotland goes much further than the constitution or independence, but is a real ambition for what we can do together as a nation. These are my principles looking forward, and also Labour’s values for Scotland. Our ambition must be to have a strong Scottish parliament within a UK that pools and shares resources for the common good.
Together we can:
- Pool and share resources across the UK for the benefit of everyone in the UK;
- Reassert our commitment to devolution – getting the best of both worlds with a strong Scottish Parliament, secure within the United Kingdom;
- Build a new moral economy, where the national wealth is used for the benefit of all;
- Bring about the bold, 21st century, revolution in social policy that Scotland needs.
These are foundations, not structured policy ideas. I know that people will want more detail on what a Labour government in Westminster and a Scottish Labour government in Holyrood would look like, what they would say, and most importantly what they would do. I’m the first to say we haven’t spelled out every detail in every policy area, but I hope that what we have committed to gives you a sense of our direction:
- More powers, and importantly, more responsibility for the Scottish Parliament;
- Cracking down on pay day loan companies;
- Strengthening the National Minimum Wage and advancing the Living Wage;
- Getting our economy back on track, and rebalancing our economy – with a bankers’ bonus tax, a jobs guarantee for our young people, and cutting business rates for small businesses;
- Binning the hated bedroom tax and having the most ambitious plan for social housing in decades;
- Freezing energy prices until 2017 and reforming the energy market.
I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on our plans. You can read the whole paper presented at Scottish Labour Conference in March here.