Labour lay out alternative to Scottish independence

SCOTTISH Labour today launched a radical alternative to independence as it unveiled a “Red Paper” setting out the party’s plans to pursue social justice measures in the event of a No vote in the referendum.

Deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party Anas Sarwar MP. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Deputy party leader Anas Sarwar launched the flagship document “Together We Can” with key pledges on expanding childcare and tackling poverty on the opening day of Scottish Labour’s conference in Perth.

Mr Sarwar insisted that the paper was “not a manifesto” or an alternative to the white paper, even though a version of the document setting out Labour’s plans for Scotland after a No vote will be delivered to every Scottish household in the run-up to the referendum.

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Key planks of the document include a pledge to halve child poverty by 2021, 25 hours of free childcare for every three and four year-old and 15 hours a week for half of all two year olds as well as a plan for a 50 per cent tax rate for those earning over £150,000 a year.

Mr Sarwar said the Red Paper was a document of “ambitions” and “aspiration” for Labour in power at Holyrood and Westminster.

The Labour MP unveiled the Red Paper just days after party leader Johann Lamont set out the party’s plans to extend devolution in the event of a No vote, with the bulk of income tax devolved to Holyrood.

The latest move will be seen as the party hardening its stance on devolution in the run up to 18 September as the party attempts to appeal to Labour voters, who may be tempted by independence and the SNP’s claim that a No vote would end the Tory rule.