Labour will today attempt to launch a Holyrood comeback as Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale appeal to trade union leaders in Scotland to get behind the party and fight against SNP cuts.
The UK and Scottish party leaders will address the Unite conference in Clydebank today and tell delegates that cuts for schools and social care set out by SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney in his recent budget are “unacceptable”
Ms Dugdale will also call on trade unionists to “fight them in town halls, in their workplaces and out in the community”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will address Unite delegates tomorrow.
The Nationalists last night called on Labour to set out “credible” alternative plans.
The move comes as a new poll showed Labour remains in danger of being overtaken by the Conservatives as the main opposition party in Scotland, with just four points between the parties, according to Survation. More than half of voters in Scotland still plan to vote for the SNP in May’s Holyrood elections.
Ms Dugdale will attempt to rally the party’s traditional core union support today.
She will say: “I am calling on all trade unionists to join Scottish Labour and speak with one voice to say these SNP cuts to local councils responsible for our schools and social care just aren’t acceptable.
“We will fight these cuts in Parliament and we need trade unionists to fight them in town halls, in their workplaces and out in the community.”
Ms Dugdale’s address this afternoon to delegates at the two-day conference will be followed by a speech by Mr Corbyn.
A pledge to increase taxes to fund improved schooling standards will also be set out again by Ms Dugdale, with both Labour and the SNP set to place education at the heart of their election campaigns.
She will say: “We cannot begin to build a fairer, more prosperous country for those children while local services across the country are being starved of the resources they need. We cannot build a better life for those children when their parents are amongst the thousands of local government workers who have lost their jobs or the 15,000 more who [local authority umbrella group] Cosla say could go as a result of John Swinney’s £500m cut to our councils.”
But the SNP say Labour have been calling for “across the board” spending hikes with no plan to pay for them.
Nationalist backbencher Linda Fabiani said: “The fact is people in Scotland don’t even view Labour under Kezia Dugdale as a serious party of opposition, let alone a credible party of government – which is exactly why they now appear to be locked in a battle for second place with the Tories as we approach the election.”