LABOUR’S manifesto for next year’s Holyrood elections will be “the most pro-enterprise ever”, the party’s new Scottish leader has pledged.
Kezia Dugdale insisted Labour needs to develop a “renewed relationship with those who generate the wealth Scotland needs to make our country a fairer place to live”.
The stance could spark a rift between Labour north and south of the border - where new UK leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell are launching a wholesale review of the party’s economic policies.
As part of that, Mr McDonnell is looking at measures to shift the burden of tax away from middle and low-earners as well as a “Robin Hood tax” on financial transactions.
The left-winger dismissed as “fantasy” Conservative claims he was planning “damaging tax rises on jobs, investment and earnings”, insisting Labour’s focus was on growing the economy, making sure corporations paid their taxes and halting Tory tax cuts for the rich.
Labour came under attack from businesses during this year’s general election campaign after pledging to freeze energy prices, break up high-street banks and place workers on executive remuneration boards.
In contrast to that, Ms Dugdale said she wanted entrepreneurs to see Scotland as a “good place to do business”.
She made the comments ahead of an address at the Guardian fringe event at Labour’s Brighton conference.
Ms Dugdale is also visiting the Entrepreneurial Spark organisation, which supports people starting up and running their own businesses, while in the city.
The Lothian MSP said: “The number one priority for everybody in Scottish politics should be closing the gap between the richest and the rest.
“The fact that someone from a well-off background is twice as likely to go on to higher education and get the skills they need than someone from a poorer background is a scandal.
“We need to generate the wealth to invest more in education and close that gap between the richest and the rest.
“I want entrepreneurs to see Scotland as a good place to do business, somewhere to invest in the workforce and help grow our economy.
“Next year’s Scottish Labour manifesto will be the most pro-enterprise ever. To regain the trust of the people of Scotland, we need to offer a positive vision for transforming our country.
“That includes a renewed relationship with those who generate the wealth Scotland needs to make our country a fairer place to live.”