In advance of the General Election on Thursday 12th December, we look at each of the main political parties and why they want your vote. In this article, we look at the Scottish Labour Party:
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Labour have been focussing on a core message of transforming the UK for the modern age during this election, with a manifesto packed with spending plans.
But with a position on Brexit and Scottish Independence which some voters have found confusing and inconsistent, they’re in 3rd place in Scotland according to the latest STV/Ipsos MORI poll. However, the party have significantly higher levels of support in England & Wales, so could the keys of No.10 Downing Street be handed to Jeremy Corbyn?
This election is dealing with so-called ‘reserved’ matters – items which only Westminster has a say over, not the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast. This includes foreign policy, defence, benefits & social security, the constitution, trade and industry and immigration among other themes.
The NHS, education, local government, law and order, planning, housing, social care and the environment are examples of issues which are devolved to Scotland and therefore not likely to change immediately as a result of this Westminster election. The impacts of Brexit and independence will, however, have a significant impact on all aspects of life here and that’s why they feature so heavily in media reports.
On policy, there are several key issues in the Labour manifesto which have gained attention during the election.
The position on Brexit is that the party would renegotiate a deal with the EU in the immediate period after the election, then put this new deal to the public in a legally binding second EU referendum. Jeremy Corbyn has said he will remain neutral on Brexit during this renegotiation.
The party have said Scottish Independence would not be a priority for the ‘early years’ of a new Labour government, offering a period for Labour policies to have a positive impact on Scottish voters who may then decide to keep the union together.
The Labour Party commit to a £400bn investment in capital expenditure over 10 years, repairing and replacing the physical infrastructure of the UK. This includes £250bn for a Green Transformation Fund and £150bn for a Social Transformation Fund.
They will spend an additional £82bn a year on everyday costs (also called resource spend) by 2023/24, including reforms in England and Wales to Universal Credit, raising Carers Allowance, free personal care for the over 65s, introduce free prescriptions and free dentistry, and abolish tuition fees.
The Scottish Government will receive an additional £5.5bn a year of consequential spend as part of Labour’s investment plans.
They will take several national institutions back into public ownership, including broadband services, the railways, the supply arms of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies and they’ll renationalise water services.
To pay for these investments, Labour say they will introduce a new income tax rate for those earning £80,000 or above, and a higher rate at £125,000. They will reverse cuts in Corporation Tax for businesses and introduce a tax on large multinationals and those with second homes.
The party will also devolve new powers to Holyrood, including powers to borrow money for resource and capital expenditure, and they will give Holyrood powers over employment law. They will also abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected second chamber, a Senate of the Nations & Regions and a citizens assembly.
On LGBTI equality, the Labour Party have made commitments to:
- Create a new government department for Women & Equalities, with a full-time Secretary of State
- Deliver on the national LGBT Action Plan by putting equality at the heart of government.
- Retain and promote the Human Rights Act
- Tackle LGBTI homelessness, particularly among young people.
- Reform the Gender Recognition Act.
- Provide funding to deliver mandatory LGBTI education in schools.
- Fully fund sexual health services and the roll out of PrEP.
- Appoint a dedicated global LGBT ambassador to the Foreign Office.
The LGBT wing of the Labour Party were contacted for comment but we received no response.
At the time of publication, 28 of 58 Scottish Labour candidates had signed the Equality Network’s LGBTI Pledge.
Pink Saltire are profiling the 5 main Scottish political parties in the General Election. Check our website for coverage of the SNP, Lib Dem, Green and Conservative commitments.