THE SNP is a barrier to the success of Scotland’s young people, according to interim Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.
Teacher numbers have dropped by 7,000 and college students are down by 140,000 since the SNP came to power in 2007, Mr Sarwar will say in a speech to the Employability and Skills Scotland Conference in Glasgow today.
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The SNP has “failed to introduce a single progressive policy” in its time in government, even “siding with the Tories to block Labour’s proposals” for promotion of the living wage in public procurement, he said in advance extracts from his speech.
“Wherever you look, the SNP are putting up barriers to success,” Mr Sarwar said.
“Whether that is by cutting the number of teachers in our schools, in cutting college places or by cutting the number of Scottish students going to university, they are letting down Scots.
“How can we have a high employment, high wage, high skill economy in the future when we are not getting the foundations right now?
“It is ridiculous for them to suggest they are the party of progress when in seven years of government they have failed to introduce a single progressive policy.
“Instead of the SNP using the parliament as a vehicle for progress, it appears as if they are using it as a roadblock to progressive policies.
“There is no greater example of that than the promotion of the living wage through procurement. Instead of joining with Labour to ensure workers are paid the living wage, the SNP sided with the Tories to block Labour’s proposals.
“Nicola Sturgeon has been in government for almost 10 years. The Scottish Government has powers over health, education, housing and childcare. All policies that would help tackle inequalities yet we know today the inequality gap is widening, not closing.
“Nicola Sturgeon should stop grandstanding, stop blaming someone else and start using the powers she has now to make a difference today.
“She could start by backing Scottish Labour’s action plan to tackle low pay helping hundreds of thousands of Scots.
“I would also urge Nicola Sturgeon to back Labour’s plan to devolve the work programme to local authorities.
“As far as the SNP are concerned, devolution for them appears to stop at the door of Holyrood.
“For too long they have sucked power up and in, rather than push power down and out, and she should use the opportunity of her speech to SNP conference on Saturday to give a commitment her party will genuinely work with others to make devolution work.”
A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This is a preposterous speech from Anas Sarwar, which no one will take remotely seriously.
“The reality is that it is this SNP Government which has scrapped the tuition fees introduced by Labour and restored university education based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay - while Labour are threatening to reintroduce fees via their Cuts Commission.
“We have also improved Scotland’s standing in international school performance rankings and delivered more apprenticeships than Labour ever did.
“The SNP Government is improving education and widening opportunity for all of Scotland’s young people, while Labour are leaderless, directionless and increasingly pointless in the eyes of the people of Scotland.”
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