Kezia Dugdale has insisted she has no problem with Scottish Labour being viewed as a party prepared to raise taxes if it leads to improvements in education and public services.
Visiting Rutherglen in South Lanarkshire today to launch the party’s general election campaign north of the border, she said investment was needed to plug a growing skills gap and attract high-skilled jobs to the country.
“It’s often said no one votes for a party that promises to put taxes up,” she told The Scotsman. “But I think people are desperate to vote for a party that will focus on public services and invest in education and skills.
“If you look at the state of the economy, we have a growing skills gap in Scotland and an issue with jobs of the future. The only we can address that and bring high-skilled, well-paid jobs to Scotland is investing in our people.
“If that means sending more people to college or university, that comes down to the public pound and how much of it there is - which is why I’m clear we have to ask those with the broadest shoulders to pay a bit more tax.
“Yes, to close the gap between the richest and the poorest, but it’s sound economic policy.
“The only way we can attract high-skilled jobs is with a high-skilled workforce. Someone has to take responsibilty for delivering that and I think Labour is the only party arguing for it.”
Labour won just a single Westminster constituency in Scotland in 2015, but party bosses view Rutherglen and Hamilton West as a key target following analysis of last week’s council elections.
The seat was won by Margaret Ferrier of the SNP two years ago and she will defend a majority of 9,975 when voters go to the polls on June 8.