Zero-hours contracts up. Unsecured borrowing up. Poverty up. If you think David Cameron’s legacy was bad in his first term, imagine what another five years of the Tories in No. 10 will do to our country. The only way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to vote Labour on May 7th.
We believe that Scotland succeeds when working people succeeds, so our programme for Government would tackle the causes of the low-wage, low-skill economy that the Tories seem to think is good enough. Only Labour will outlaw zero-hours contracts and not just ‘review’ them as the SNP have said they will do. This will help 60,000 Scots regain job security for themselves and their families.
We will reverse the hire-and-fire culture that the Tories have encouraged. We will scrap the employment tribunal fees introduced by the Coalition, making access to justice a right for every worker again. We will raise the minimum wage and demand the payment of the Living Wage by those seeking government contracts.
To give young people the best start in life, we will tax bankers’ bonuses to fund a guaranteed paid starter job or training opportunity for every 18-24 year old out of work for over a year. Scottish Labour will maintain free tuition fees for Scottish students and reverse the SNP’s neglect of college funding. We will increase Modern Apprenticeship places by requiring every firm in receipt of a UK Government contract to offer apprenticeships across the UK, and we will offer free bus travel to all apprentices.
Labour created the NHS, and we will protect it in government. Our UK-wide mansion tax will be able to fund 1000 extra nurses and 500 more GPs here in Scotland. We recognise that mental health is just as important as physical health and that is why we would create a £200m Mental Health Fund to support the 1 in 4 Scots affected by mental health problems at some point in their lives.
I have been knocking on hundreds of doors over recent months, having countless conversations with voters about the issues that matter to them. All too often, we heard the charge that politics is broken and no longer has the trust of voters – I agree that the relationship between politicians and voters needs to change to combat the all too common cynicism. In response, Labour are pledging to set up a people-led Constitutional Convention on the future of governance in the UK. We want to extend democracy for young people and give 16 and 17 year olds the vote for the first time in general elections. Labour will also ban MPs and MSPs from holding paid directorships and we will create a statutory register of lobbyists for a more transparent politics.
In this General election campaign, many are already focussed on calculating which parties might club together to form a government instead of looking at what they have pledged to deliver.
But beneath all the speculation there are some simple truths. The Labour party have presented a fully costed manifesto for a fairer, more equal Britain. Every vote for the SNP simply blocks Labour’s chance at a majority government with the power to implement our agenda for change and we need power to achieve that change. Every vote for the SNP increases David Cameron’s chance of securing another five years in government.
The next Parliament is too important to take that risk, and that is why I am asking you to vote for Labour on May 7th – the only party with a truly fair and progressive agenda that can deliver for the whole of the UK.