JOHANN Lamont will today mark the first anniversary of her election as Scottish Labour leader by underlining the party’s commitment to achieving new powers for Holyrood while remaining within the UK.
She will also set out Labour’s vision for Scottish education, including the current system of free tuition fees at a time of “shrinking budgets”, during a keynote speech in Glasgow.
It is a year to the day since Ms Lamont was elected as the first leader of a reorganised Scottish Labour Party, which has loosened its ties to London.
She will acknowledge that Labour in Scotland still faces a big challenge to rebuild following its humiliation at the hands of Alex Salmond’s SNP in last year’s Scottish election.
But she will also say progress has been made and will look forward to publishing plans to build a stronger constitutional settlement that gets past the “false choice” offered by the SNP of “home rule or Tory rule”.
“My first year as Scottish Labour leader has been great fun and I believe we have made considerable progress in reforming the party, holding the government to account on its choices and exposing the SNP on the constitutional argument,” Ms Lamont is expected to say.
“But we still have a long way to go to rebuild the party. Although many people came back to us in May’s local government elections, Labour has more to do to convince people we can match their aspirations.
“I want to move further and faster in our second year building on what we have achieved so far and we are looking forward to 2012 when we will see an interim report from the devolution commission and the launch of the Labour campaign for the referendum. While we are determined to win the constitutional argument, we also want to continue articulating our vision for a better Scotland in education and in health.
“We face a significant challenge meeting our ambitions for Scotland in a time of shrinking budgets, but I am determined that we get past the false choice offered by the SNP of home rule or Tory rule and start to build the kind of Scotland we want.”
In September this year, Labour announced the creation of its Devolution Commission, a vehicle designed to bring radical new powers to Holyrood which could include control of all income and corporation tax.
The past few months have also seen her announce a controversial policy review to look at the universal taxpayer funded services provided in Scotland such as free tuition fees.
HIGHS AND LOWS
December 2011 High: victory over Ken Macintosh and Tom Harris in a lacklustre leadership contest.
March 2012: High: Lamont ambushes Alex Salmond by producing two pensioners who had suffered from a lack of hospital blankets. The SNP apologised after dismissing complaints of a blanket shortage.
April 2012: Low: condemned for a defeatist attitude at the beginning of the local government election campaign when she conceded that the SNP “would gain more councillors”.
May 2012: High: The SNP do win more councillors at local election (424 to Labour’s 394). But Labour score a notable success by winning an overall majority in Glasgow.
September 2012: Low: Lamont announces policy review saying she wants to end Scotland’s “something for nothing” culture.