Richard Leonard: 'Scotland needs a government that works for the whole of the country'
In an exclusive article for The Red Robin, Richard Leonard sets out why he is touring Scotland in August to set out Labour's ideas across the country as part of the summer of socialism, Scottish Labour’s summer campaigning
There is a new choice in Scotland and it couldn’t be clearer: Labour’s plan for investment and creating better jobs; or another decade of insecurity and cuts from the SNP and the Tories.
Scotland needs a government that works for the whole of the country, and a government that works for the many, not the few. Labour is the only party that offers such a government - a government that will fight for real change for working people to across the country.
That is why I have started my summer campaign tour of Scotland, as part of our Summer of Socialism initiative.
It is a journey that will take me to the furthest reaches of the country: to the Shetland Isles in the north, to the Outer Hebrides in the west, and I began my journey by visiting the Mull of Galloway in the south.
The Scottish Labour Party has been campaigning throughout the summer. We celebrated the NHS’s 70th birthday, vowing to defend it, and invest in the people who work in it.
We played a leading role in mobilising protests against Donald Trump’s visit, and were out in force on the demonstrations to ‘dump Trump’ in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Scottish Labour members are delivering thousands of Real Change newspapers, carrying our central argument that the dividing line in Scotland is now between Labour’s plan to invest and build an economy that works for the many, not the few, or further austerity with the SNP and the Tories.
Every Constituency Labour Party in Scotland has received its campaign pack setting out week-by-week tools for campaigning along the themes that we have been taking up in Holyrood and Westminster – from the NHS and education, jobs and the economy, to housing, transport and the cost of living.
Our aim is to encourage constituencies the length and breadth of the country to spread the word about our positive vision of hope and our radical plan to transform Scotland. In so doing we are building confidence among local members, supporters, community organisers and members of the public and rebuilding our campaigning culture.
With my tour, I am using the summer parliamentary recess to take our political ideas into communities and towns across Scotland. I will use it to listen to working people about the problems they face amid SNP and Tory austerity – and their ideas to fix it. I will speak with, not just Labour Party supporters, but with trade unions, community groups and business owners, because I have always believed that politics is not made in the parliament, but in the homes, the factories and the communities of Scotland.
Last Monday, for instance, I headed south to Stranraer, where I met with campaigners who were frustrated about the SNP’s failure to upgrade transport links. Top of their list of concerns was dualling the A77, and I shared with them how Labour would deliver a £20billion investment bank for Scotland to help build the bridges and the roads and the railways the Scottish economy desperately needs.
As August moves on, I will be taking Labour’s message of hope and real change out across the country.
Given the complacency of this SNP government, which offers nothing but austerity and division, there are many issues to be addressed. Just last week, we saw educational attainment in our schools fall yet again under the SNP, while teachers’ calls for fair pay continue to fall on deaf ears. We have learnt that local policing numbers are falling, a victim of the SNP’s obsession with centralisation.
Nearly every community I visit is paying a price for the growing crisis in the NHS: from GP surgery cuts to Hospital services under threat – action groups are springing up right across the country. And the economies of too many towns and villages are hit by the squeeze on working families and declining pay.
The summer recess is a time for reflection, renewal and action. By taking Labour’s message across the country, we can show how our party will deliver a government that works for all of Scotland.