Chris Wilde, a Scottish Labour activist in Glenrothes & Central Fife, says there are a huge number of reasons to say Yes to Labour in May this year.
My first foray into politics happened when I was at school.
I was out with my friends and we went to the newly refurbished play park just around the corner from my house. When we got there, to my horror, I found that the new slide had been shortened by about 5 foot.
As a 7-year-old who liked nothing more than firing down a slide on a sunny day with the wind in his hair, I can tell you, I was not happy.
I went home and complained to my Mum and Dad. While they were largely sympathetic, the size of the local chute was not high up on their priority list. But I kept talking about it, and after four days my Dad sat me down and told me: “Chris, I can’t fix your chute! But if you’re that unhappy about it, write to your councillor and ask them for the old one back.”
So that’s exactly what I did. I wrote a letter, and two days later I was invited to meet with the councillor to chat about the chute. They told me that the old one was too big, and that in the past year two children had managed to fall off the top and people were understandably not too happy about that.
I never got the old chute back but I learned one big lesson: I have a voice, and that voice will be listened to if I use it.
I’ve used that voice ever since, as my partner Megan will attest.
And when I see a country with a 22% child poverty rate, where the NHS is in crisis and our governments are trying to sell it off piece by piece, and where our economy is benefitting the wealthy while penalising the poor, I tell you I’ll use that voice. And that is the opportunity that we all have today.
Just last year Scotland used its voice too. Irrespective of the outcome, 84% of Scottish voters went to the polls. 84%! Up and down the country, wherever I went, on buses, trains, in cafes, at college, at work, all people were talking about was the referendum.
Never in my life have I been on a bus where three separate groups of people, from young schoolchildren to older pensioners, were talking in detail about tax policy, about oil and gas, about our schools and hospitals.
They were using their voices.
Not only were they using them but they were overwhelmingly positive about the future of Scotland, whether they were for independence or not. Too often politics is about attacking your opponents, about political point scoring. Parties, including Labour, have at times spent more energy on hitting out at other parties than talking about the positive change they can make in the country.
It was the idea of opportunity, and the positive benefits that that could bring, that got our country debating from Thurso to Dumfries, and that had schoolchildren fluent in tax policy.
Positive change and a positive attitude will help lead this party to victory, and we must raise our game. We must stop the negativity and keep leading, showing what we will do to create a prosperous positive future.
And we need to talk about our achievements. Labour has been in power for a total of 31 of the last 100 years, yet in that short time we have achieved so much for the country:
- We delivered an NHS free at the point of use.
- We delivered a National Minimum Wage.
- We delivered a Sex Discrimination Act and a Race Discrimination Act.
- We legalised civil partnerships.
- We delivered the Equal Pay Act.
- And we delivered the Scottish Parliament itself.
This party is going to achieve so much more.
We are the only major party who, instead of letting wealth trickle down from the top, wants to take those at the bottom and lift them out of poverty using an £8 minimum wage. We will give them opportunities and help deliver jobs by providing apprenticeships to all and improving education so that all of us are better prepared for the challenges in the 21st century.
We are the party of social change. So use your voice and help shape this Labour Party and help shape the country that you want to live in.
Remember that together we can create, we must create, and we will create a future that is better and fairer for all