SCOTTISH politics is about to change.
Alex Salmond will face his final First Minister’s Questions this week. It’s likely he’ll then begin his campaign to return to the House of Commons. For my own party, we are just a month away from a new leader in Scotland who will take us into the election campaigns of 2015 and 2016.
Come Christmas, the landscape of politics in Scotland will be unrecognisable from the pre-referendum era.
I want to be at the centre of that new era.
I have faith in Scotland’s future. We have the talent, the drive and the will to do whatever we want as a country. More great days are ahead for Scotland if we make the right choices now.
Since losing office in 2007, Scottish Labour has looked like we have been in an almost permanent bad mood. People could be forgiven for thinking we were the party that simply opposed whatever the SNP offered just for the sake of it.
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The Nationalists traded in a politics of a bright sunny uplands, where no problem was too great that it couldn’t be solved by independence. By contrast, Scottish Labour too often gave the impression of a collective pessimism – as if we were looking forward to a rainy day.
Most Scots take a different view from both parties. Scots are hard-headed optimists who know the world is more complicated than the SNP suggests and want a Scottish Labour Party that shares their passion and is worthy of their affections.
I am optimistic about Scotland’s future. I have a can- do attitude about our great country.
Of course we face many challenges as a nation. The first thing we have to do is grow our economy and support companies and workers who generate the wealth. In doing so we can have the resources to tackle poverty.
I know that too many people’s life chances are still determined by where they were born or the hardship of their upbringing. It’s a moral outrage that any family has to rely on food banks, but that families in work do so should sicken us all.
The NHS is the envy of the world but it is under huge pressure and we need a government that is more passionate about the NHS than it is about independence. We should also have a school system that breaks down social inequality rather than unintentionally sustaining it.
In changing Scotland I know that Labour doesn’t have a monopoly of ideas. I will be a party leader who works with people of all politics and none.
Too often in Scotland, politicians would cross the road to start an argument with one another. That has to change too. I will work with people across traditional political divides. The days of defining ourselves by what we’re not are over for the Scottish Labour Party.
I want to lead Scottish Labour to change Scotland. Labour’s motto in future should be that there’s nothing wrong with Scotland that can’t be made right by the people of Scotland working together.
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