Sarah Boyack: We must re-engage with the public

Sarah Boyak MSP. Picture: Contributed
Sarah Boyak MSP. Picture: Contributed
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SCOTTISH Labour must live up to the name.

We need to be a party of Scotland, for Scotland and to make this a country where we turn fine words into public policy and change people’s lives for the better.

Economic justice, social justice and environmental justice must be central to our purpose. They are what Scottish Labour is all about. We want our modern, devolved Scotland to reflect Labour goals and values, because we believe those are the right goals and values for the world in which we live.

This leadership contest and this debate are about how we achieve those things.

Bringing power closer to home is part of the answer. I have campaigned for devolution to Scotland within the UK for all of my adult life. The Smith Commission offers a new opportunity to continue the process of devolution which Scottish Labour began in 1997.

But devolution on its own is not enough, just as independence on its own could not have delivered the social change many people want.

It is what politicians do with power that matters. Scottish Labour needs to be bold and radical, and to draw on the many good ideas people have about how to transform our country.

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Over the next few weeks I’ll be listening to people right across Scotland, to hear their ideas and suggestions about how Scottish Labour should use the Scottish Parliament’s new powers to achieve social, economic and environmental justice.

I will publish 100 new ideas before the ballot closes, ideas that need to be debated about the purpose and use of political power. That is what Scottish Labour needs to do, to renew itself for a new era. We need to re-engage, to listen and respond to what people have to say. But we also need to lead again, setting the agenda about how we move our country forward.

Over the next 18 months we face two watershed elections.

We need to get rid of a Tory government which neither knows nor cares about Scotland. David Cameron’s crass attempt to turn Westminster into an English parliament is as divisive as Alex Salmond blaming England for all of Scotland’s woes.

If we are serious about Labour’s values of pooling and sharing resources for the common good, we need to be able to win the confidence of voters across the UK. Then we need to show why voters in Scotland can trust Scottish Labour to deliver on our values in a way that the Scottish National party will never do.

It’s not enough to be angry; not enough to focus on policies alone; not enough to concentrate on party organisation, as if that on its own would win elections.

We need passion, policies and organisation, but we also need to be clear that our purpose is not power, it is a fairer, more equal, more socially just and sustainable Scotland.

That is what I want to deliver, and I am up for the challenge.

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