As you take over the leadership reins of the SNP and become Scotland’s First Minister, I wish you well. You will be the first female to lead our parliament and a responsibility to Scotland’s women comes with it.
As First Minister, you must raise the nation’s hopes and ambitions for women. This means tackling the gender pay gap and the occupational segregation that prevents women from doing STEM subjects, potentially locking them out of the jobs of the future. Or trapped in traditional roles that are too often low-paid and low-skilled with little job security. You can help more women into public office and onto public boards by backing the 50/50 Campaign.
Childcare too is a barrier for women that we must break down. Providing affordable and flexible childcare is my political priority. If we get it right, together, we can tackle gender inequality, child poverty and improve educational attainment. I aspire to see the cost of childcare capped at no more than 10 per cent of income, just as it is in Finland. I will campaign to make a childcare place available to every mum and dad of a pre-school child who wants to go to college. I hope you will support those ambitions.
As you know, I’m strongly opposed to many of the SNP policies under Alex Salmond’s leadership. If, like me, you want to create a fairer Scotland, with a better-educated and healthier population, fit to meet global challenges, many of these policies need to be reviewed. I’m sure that when you talked about redistributing wealth, you didn’t mean for it to go from the poor to the rich. That is what has happened under the past seven years of your government.
It’s heartbreaking that 3,000 fewer children from Scotland’s poorest areas went to university last year than when Labour left office. A postcode still determines their future far more than their potential. Under the SNP, 140,000 college places have disappeared. Vital routes into the workplace for many: gone.
I am standing for the deputy leadership of the Scottish Labour Party to have the opportunity to help shape our country. My great-grandfather was a wheeltapper on the railways, my grandmother a tracer in a Maryhill clerk’s office. My parents teachers. They all worked hard, valued education and public service, aspired for better and were determined that the next generation would have more opportunities than they themselves. Those are Scotland’s values, and that is why I will work with you, trades unions, Scottish business and all of civic Scotland to deliver for tomorrow’s Scotland.
Kezia Dugdale is the MSP for Lothian Region