Katy Clark, deputy leadership candidate and MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, says Scottish Labour is the best vehicle for radical economic and social change in Scotland.
Despite our victory in the referendum we must be clear that no change is not an option.
We have promised further powers for the Scottish Parliament and we must deliver on that. But as a party we must also be very clear about what Scottish Labour will do with those powers given the chance. During the next few weeks I hope to outline what I believe Scottish Labour needs to be saying.
We need the policies and powers to regenerate our communities, to start a massive council house building programme, to stop privatisation, to bring our railways back into public control and to eradicate poverty. We should use the powers the Scottish Parliament already has for example to end 15 minute care visits, increase childcare provision and to reregulate the buses.
We need the right polices but we also need the right leadership team to deliver it.
My view is that in the current situation we need a MSP for leader. Two of the leader candidates are already MSPs, the other says he wants to become one as soon as possible. The deputy leader position is different.
I think much of the reason we are in the situation we are in is as a result of decisions we have taken at a UK level. As Labour Party members we can all recite Labour’s successes – the creation of the Scottish Parliament, the minimum wage, massive investment in schools and hospitals, council house upgrades, tax credits etc. But much of the problem that we now face is because too often the positions we have taken at Westminster – on Iraq or on privatisation or welfare reform legislation – have been against the mainstream of Scottish opinion. This is something which Scottish Labour now needs to address head on.
The fact is, whilst we can and should pursue a radical agenda at Holyrood, this will only be effective if that agenda is not compromised by policies at a UK level which are unpopular in Scotland. As Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, who is also an MP, I can help ensure first hand that the policies of the party at a UK level are in the interests of the people of Scotland. Which is why l believe we should have an MP as deputy leader.
There is now a recognition that the Scottish Labour Party needs much more control over policy and organisation. Scottish Labour needs a strong voice at Westminster and we need a far better connect between MPs, MSPs and the Scottish Party both to ensure the UK party responds to what Scotland needs, and to effectively advocate the radical policies needed to change Scotland.
As a party we campaigned for a No vote in the referendum. We argued for the “best of both worlds”. We now need to say what that means. Devolution is about allowing the political will of the Scottish people as expressed through the ballot box to be put into effect as far as is possible.
During this campaign I will putting the case that Scottish Labour can be a distinctive brand and that by re-engaging with our members, with trade union members and with the communities we seek to represent we are the best vehicle for the radical economic and social change Scotland needs.