1st September 2016

This morning Kezia Dugdale Launched Scottish Labour's Alternative Programme for Government.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Kezia Dugdale said :

119 days ago, the SNP was elected again as Scotland’s Government for a third term and Nicola Sturgeon was given a personal mandate by the Scottish people to serve as Scotland’s First Minister.

We were promised a bold and radical programme for government, but 119 days on we are still waiting to see the government’s plans.

In a speech at the start of the recess, I said that Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet would use this summer to hold the SNP Government to account.

That we would bring the experiences of people who use our public services into the public eye, and we would show what Labour would do differently.

SUMMER CAMPAIGN

And that is what we have done.

Anas Sarwar showed that there have been 5,000 cases of delayed discharge in Scotland this year.

That’s thousands of elderly people who are in hospital, rather than in their own homes. So we proposed a guaranteed care package within a week.

Neil Bibby brought the frustrations of people who rely on Scotland’s bus services to our attention, and the patchwork of services around the country.

And he proposed re-regulation of bus services as the first action government could take to solve the problem.

Jackie Baillie responded to the Brexit vote by publishing an action plan.

Real changes that the Scottish Government could make today to provide confidence to businesses and the Scottish people following the referendum result.

Iain Gray continued to show the gap that remains between the SNP’s rhetoric on childcare and the reality.

When people ask me what difference a Labour Government would make here in Scotland, I ask them to look at what Sadiq Khan has achieved in London.

There, the first 100 days of his administration have been a frenzy of activity.Sadiq has already taken action on pollution by extending the low emission zone, began the work of introducing new ticketing for London’s buses and presided over the biggest change to London transport in generations with the start of the night tube.

This is the difference that having Labour politicians in government can make.

But where we should have had 100 days of action on schools, hospitals, jobs and the economy, a constitutional debate which formed only 209 of the 24,000 words in the SNP’s manifesto is dominating once again.

Brexit has changed politics in Scotland and the UK. In July, I called on Nicola Sturgeon to appoint a dedicated unit in the Scottish Government to oversee action on Brexit. I’m pleased that officials – and a Minister – are now in place.

It is absolutely right that protecting Scotland’s interests in Europe should be one of the First Minister’s priorities.

But it can’t be at the expense of everything else our Scottish Government is responsible for.

And all the things it will soon be responsible for, with the new powers of the Scotland Act. After years of constitutional debate, it is time for the First Minister and all Scottish Government Ministers to focus on the job of reforming and investing in our public services, and getting people back to work.

Labour’s Alternative Programme for Government.

That is why today we have published Labour’s Alternative Programme for Government.

A series of bills that we believe the SNP should include in their upcoming legislative plan.

As I said repeatedly during the election campaign, education will be Labour’s priority. Investing in the next generation so that they are prepared for the jobs that will drive the Scottish economy in the future.

That is why an Education Bill leads this programme.

A Bill that would enshrine our Fair Start Fund to narrow the gap between the richest and the rest.

That would abolish charges for exam appeals, which too often penalise working class children and young people, and which would establish a breakfast club in every primary school to begin the move towards flexible, all-age childcare.

It contains a Work and Trade Union Bill – the antithesis of the Tories' regressive anti-Trade Union Laws.

Using the new and existing powers of the Scottish Parliament, this bill would establish Skills Scotland.

This new Government agency would work in partnership with trade unions and employers, to bring together employment and skills services, including responsibility for the new Work Programme powers.

Our Health and Social Care Bill would establish a national guarantee for care workers and deliver the funding and reform needed to make our health service fit for the future.

And our Ban Fracking Bill would do what the SNP have avoided doing – it would say no ifs, no buts, no fracking.

Protecting Scotland’s natural landscape and stopping in its tracks a fossil fuel that our environment can’t afford.

These and the other Bills contained in this plan would be a bold and radical programme to put before the Scottish Parliament in this session.

And at the root of all of these proposals is Labour’s pledge to use the new powers of the Scottish Parliament to avoid an austerity budget.

The next Scottish budget will be the first to make use of the full income tax powers delivered by the Scotland Act.

The powers of the Parliament give us the ability to make different choices. The Scottish Government should use them.

We will outline our detailed plans for the Scottish budget in the coming months.

But let me be clear – the Labour Party I lead cannot and will not vote for a budget that passes on more Tory austerity to Scotland, whilst not asking even the richest in our society to pay a penny more.

To vote for it would mean more cuts to our schools and colleges.

The loss of local NHS services that are now coming under threat.

And even less of the investment we need to attract high quality, well paid jobs to Scotland.

PROGRESSIVE OPPOSITION

The election result 119 days ago delivered a personal mandate for Nicola Sturgeon and a third term for the SNP Government.

But it also resulted in minority government.

And that changes how we will approach the next session of this Parliament.

As I have said before, where there is common ground with the Government, they will have Labour’s support.

But I believe there will be much where a strong progressive opposition can bring about real change.

So I will, as I always have, seek to work with the other progressive parties in the Scottish Parliament to push the SNP Government in the right direction.

Because what’s the alternative?

It’s back to what we had from 2007 to 2011.

A minority SNP Government propped up by Tory votes.

That’s the choice on offer to the SNP in this session – work with Labour and the other progressive parties, or rely on Tory votes to push your programme through.

THE TORIES: SCOTLAND’S BREXIT PARTY

And let me say one final thing about the Tories. During the election, we set out a Programme for Government.

The Tories set out a plan for opposition.

The job of opposition, as Labour has learned to its cost in the past, is not just to say what is wrong with the world, but present your vision to change it.

That is what we are doing today, and what we will continue to do.

And in doing so, we are the only party that wants what the Scottish people want – a strong Scotland inside the UK and maintaining our relationship with Europe.

Ruth Davidson cannot escape the fact that her party is taking us headlong on a path out of the EU.

We saw that clearly from yesterday’s political cabinet at Chequers.

A path that, at worst, will weaken our economy and, at best, will create years of instability.

Senior members of the Government she supports are the same people who eight weeks ago Ruth Davidson said were lying to the British public.

Here’s what she said to the new Energy Secretary:

“I cannot let it stand that you tell a blatant untruth in the middle of a debate before a vote.”

On the new Foreign Secretary’s arguments for Brexit, she told the country:

“You’re being sold…a lie”

And about all her pro-Brexit opponents on the eve of the referendum?

They had “abjectly failed”.

How can we believe a word the Tories say when just eight weeks ago they sold the British public a proposition that even their Scottish leader accepts was a bunch of lies?

No amount of comic tweets is going to disguise the fact that the Tories are Scotland’s Brexit party.

Ruth Davidson may have decided to run for opposition rather than Government during the election, but soon she’s going to discover that real opposition has to run to more than 140 characters.

MY PRIORITIES

This document, we are publishing today contains a serious agenda for change. Thirteen Bills that would form Labour’s Programme for Government. So, to people across Scotland, I say this.

These are my priorities.

• Holding the government to account.

• Investing in our public services.

• Finding the well paid, high skilled jobs we need to succeed.

• Giving every child the best start in life.

• Making sure those with the broadest shoulders pay their fair share.

• And delivering on the mandates that you gave every politician in Scotland’s two referendums:

• Standing up for our place in Europe and in the United Kingdom.

Thank you.

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