Richard Leonard: After the Growth Commission, Labour is the only party opposing austerity
The Growth Commission report which dominated politics in Scotland over the last week is continuing to fill the headlines - this time as Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard contrasts Labour’s economic vision with the SNP and the Tories’ austerity agenda.
The report has once again been pilloried this weekend, by people from both sides of the independence and political divide. Iain Macwhirter accused Sturgeon of trying ‘steal Ruth Davidson’s clothes’ by cosying up to big business by moving sharply right - accepting austerity, limiting the interventions of government, and putting the financial sector in the driving seat of the economy.
Meanwhile the left wing of the independence movement has claimed that the report will be a hard sell on the doorstep, and has urged the SNP to drop all the right wing elements of the commission’s recommendations.
As Lesley Laird MP ascends to the position of Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Leonard has used this opportunity to give Labour’s response - and show the contrast between the two visions of Scotland’s future.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is expected to say:
“Our country and our society remains too divided, we are still scarred by the arguments of the past, but we will only move forward when we come together and demand real change.
“The real divide in the UK is not between the people of the four nations. It is between the richest and the rest of us. 1 in 4 Scottish children are living in poverty at a time when the richest one per cent in Scotland own more personal wealth than the poorest 50 per cent.
“That won’t change by redrawing lines on a map, it will only change with a rebalanced economy and a redistribution of wealth, power and opportunity.
“That’s why we need to stop dividing people on the basis of nationality and start uniting people on the basis of class to bring about real change.
“Only Labour can offer this unifying vision. Austerity is a political not an economic choice, and it is the choice being taken by both Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon.
“That’s the new dividing line which has opened up in Scottish politics; the SNP and the Tories on one side promoting another decade of austerity and public expenditure cuts and Labour on the other promoting a decade of real and sustainable investment in public services and our economy.
“The choice now couldn’t be clearer - the austerity economics of nationalism or the transformation of Scotland’s economy in the UK with Labour."