jruddyJohn Ruddy says we shouldn’t try to fight on our opponents’ territory – the constitution – but on our own ground: social justice.


Despite the election being a little over 18 months after the defining referendum over the powers of the Scottish Parliament, it’s surprising how little the issue of powers came up on the doorstep. In fact, in my experience, when they did come up it was a case of people not being aware of either the existing powers or the new ones over tax and welfare to come.

It’s not surprising, really, as the SNP have spent the last 9 years claiming they were powerless to act, and the time since the referendum claiming the new powers are either not what was promised, insufficient, or both.

That’s why Scottish Labour made our campaign squarely around using the new powers. I entered politics to make a difference, and the powers of the new parliament offer us a massive opportunity to make a positive difference to people’s lives. So it’s frustrating that so many people – nearly 45% – didn’t come out to vote last Thursday, let alone that those who did voted for parties who only want to use the powers in some Darwinian race to the bottom in tax rates.

But it’s also frustrating to see people, whether it is media commentators or party colleagues, suggest that we didn’t do better because we weren’t offering more powers. Those who want more powers are those who either don’t know the powers that we do have, or want independence. The latter are unlikely to be attracted to us until it is clear that independence isn’t happening any time soon, while the former need to be shown the level of powers we do have – and the impact they can make.

Every cut the SNP make, we must be there pointing out that if they used the powers they wouldn’t have to make it. Every time our children fall behind at school. Every time our Health Service is under pressure. Every time a job is lost.

Labour is the party of devolution, the party of John Smith and Donald Dewar, and we have delivered a parliament that is more powerful than the German Lander, the states in the USA and on a par with the Swiss Cantons. That’s not my assessment – that’s the analysis from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.

We have a true powerhouse parliament that can really make a difference. We shouldn’t be fighting the next election on our opponent’s territory – the constitution – but on our own: social justice.

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3 thoughts on “Use the powers!

  1. “Use the powers”—-in a real sense the “new powers” aren’t so different from the old powers Holyrood has always had —-3p in the pound variable rate, yet no government ever used it. Think about why?
    I would rather tax consumption than income, a penny on wine or spirits, a tax on land especially fallow land, etc. etc. But that’s just me.
    Labour want to tax income right across the board.
    As I have stated elsewhere, the IPPR estimate incomes have GONE DOWN by 12% over the last five years, due to low wage growth and inflation, so people have felt a BIG squeeze in living standards. National Insurance has just been raised by 1.4%. Good jobs are hard to come by.
    But Labour want to RAISE income tax and local council tax by 1% and 3%(annually?) respectively.
    Right there* is where you lost a lot of people. Polls might suggest a measure of support but I don’t remember ANY party advocating tax rises, ever being rewarded at the ballot box.
    First —policies to grow the economy—people want to know there is a future for themselves and their children.
    Second—-tax income, and therefore spending, will rise with economic growth.
    Third—there are no shortcuts to normal market economics, so stop obsessing with taking money out of one sector( the workers, with none to spare) to spend in another( the councils, who don’t exactly have a big fan base).
    Get policies that encourage SCOTTISH economic growth, explain your thinking to the electorate and BINGO, you might have the first step back on the long journey to home.
    There is no bus or taxi on this route!
    And that’s without mentioning the constitution!

  2. You don’t get social justice by abstaining Neo Conservative legislation proposals nor by opposing the idea of more or all powers for the Scottish Parliament.
    Labour the party which offers less Devolution than anybody else.

  3. “We have delivered a parliament more powerful than the German Lander, than the states in the USA and on a par with the Swiss Cantons” , and yet we are still not jumping with JOY about it. Maybe the Landers, US states and Swiss cantons are not countries, and maybe we don’t give an earse about what powers they have because who would believe or trust what labour says.

    Why don’t you join the rest of the labour new bandwagon and start shouting about getting home rule for Scotland, oops too late I almost forgot about that “powerful parliament” we have.

    Labour are down a hole so deep you can’t see the top of it, and guess what !!! its your own fault.

    I hate to do this but here’s a ladder for you, its called independence.

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