Conference will offer anti-austerity vision of hope

Scottish Labour conference today (Friday) will set out an anti-austerity vision of hope in stark contrast to another decade of cuts under the Tories and SNP.
Speaking ahead of the first day of the conference in Dundee, Leader Richard Leonard said the Party will be outlining radical policies to end austerity, tackle poverty, inequality and homelessness, extend public ownership, and shift the balance of wealth and power in Scotland.
The conference comes as the SNP confirmed it plans to adopt its so-called Growth Commission – a blueprint for a further decade of austerity if Scotland was to leave the UK.
Ahead of the conference, Labour released analysis from the House of Commons Library showing that the SNP’s accelerated austerity plan to halve the deficit in five years could mean an additional £7.5billion worth of cuts, with public spending 8 per cent lower than it is now within 5 years.
In contrast, Labour plans a decade of investment in Scotland, with up to £70billion of additional investment over ten years based on
– £30 billion on additional Barnett consequentials
– A National Investment Bank with £20 billion of lending power
– A £20 billion National Transformation Fund to rebuild Scottish infrastructure
Labour said the figures made the choice for Scotland clear – investment with Labour, or austerity with the SNP.
The first day of conference will include keynote speeches from UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Lesley Laird.
Speaking ahead of conference opening, Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said: “It is clearer now than ever that the real choice is either more cuts and division with the Tories and SNP, or hope and investment under Labour.
“While the SNP plan turbo charged austerity for Scotland, Labour offers a decade of transformational investment.
“We will bring an end to austerity and we will shift the balance of wealth and power in Scotland, ensuring the wealthiest pay more to fund our NHS, our schools and the services we all rely on.
“We will end low pay and the exploitation of workers, reverse the rise in poverty, homelessness, inequality and foodbanks, and invest in our communities and our industries.
“We will put people before profit and transform our economy and our society so they work in the interests of the many not the few.”
In her address to conference, Lesley Laird will say: “Here in Dundee, 8,000 children are growing up below the poverty line. In my own constituency, Kirkcaldy foodbank has seen a 64 per cent increase in the past year since the roll out of Universal Credit.
“Conference, since December 2014, that food bank has distributed over 425,000 meals to almost 50,000 people. A statistic that should shame every one of us.
“And we now live in a country where poverty is predicted to reach record levels – in parts of Kirkcaldy nearly 70% of children live in poverty now.
“Across the country as a whole 59% of those who are living in relative poverty live in households where at least one person is in work. Think about that  – just for just a moment.
“That is the harsh reality of life in Scotland in 2019. That is the reality of austerity.
“Only Labour is committed to tacking the fundamental inequality in our society, we will do this, by investing in our people and in our communities.
“We will do it by introducing a £10 per hour national living age and banning zero hours contracts.  We will do it by the introduction of a Scottish investment Bank with £20 billion of investment power.
“And we will do it by investing in public services with our commitment of £30 billion of Barnett Consequentials over 10 years.
“The reality is that the real division in our country is not between those who voted to remain or leave, or those who voted yes and those who voted no.
“Constitutional politics is the scourge of our times, but ultimately if we are to break free from this impasse we must remember one thing.
“That whether you are from Benarty or Broxburn, Kelty or Kilmarnock, Lochgelly or Lesmahagow, it is irrelevant. If you are up against it, you are up against it, but you are not against each other.