Anas Sarwar: We don't need another taxation debate '“ we need to stop austerity

After years of division and opposition, I am ready to unite the Labour Party in Scotland and lead us back to power.

Anas Sarwar. Picture: John Devlin

Since the launch of this campaign, I have been clear that this contest can’t just be about electing a Scottish Labour leader; it has to be about electing the next First Minister of Scotland.

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We have suffered a lost decade under the SNP, obsessed only with the constitution, and under a Tory government that continues with its failed austerity programme.

A lost decade where the financial crash has led to wage stagnation for too many workers. A lost decade where too many families are forced to rely on food banks to put a meal on the table. A lost decade where too many young Scots can’t afford their own home.

We can’t afford another lost decade, which is why Scotland needs a Labour government. And we can only deliver the change that people need if our party wins elections once again.

That’s why I decided to stand in this contest, because I want to return the Labour Party to power: not just to protest about the ills in our society, but to put Labour values into action in government.

It’s fair to say this lengthy election has not always been conducted in the comradely spirit that most of us hoped for. But I’m proud to have led a campaign that has remained positive, rejecting the divisions of the past. Only my campaign has put forward radical, bold ideas.

I want to build a Scotland where no child is left behind; no family is left behind; no worker is left behind; and no community is left behind.

That’s why I’ve put forward plans for a Scottish Child Tax Credit to lift up to 50,000 children out of poverty. This would build on Gordon Brown’s welfare legacy, using Holyrood’s powers to go even further than Labour’s existing policy by targeting support at those most in need. It’s why I will support permanent UK membership of the European single market, because 300,000 jobs across Scotland depend on it. I’m the only candidate who has never, and will never, vote against Labour and with the Tories for a hard Brexit.

And it’s why I will propose an overhaul of income tax that would give a tax cut to everyone earning below the full-time average salary, and introduce a 50p top rate for the richest 2 per cent. We don’t need another “debate” about taxation – we need to fight to stop austerity today.

I want us to focus on creating a country that fights inequality and fights injustice wherever we see it. That is only possible with a Labour government in Holyrood.

I am determined to lead Scottish Labour back to where it should be – in power.