Richard Leonard has set out his priorities as leader in the first major speech of his leadership
SCOTTISH LABOUR’S new leader Richard Leonard has announced a “Tax and Investment Commission” at a keynote speech in Dundee, as well as announcing the party’s “Budget for Real Change” which will be published by the party in the coming days.
Chaired by Professor Christine Cooper, the Tax and Investment Commission announced by Leonard will be tasked with “looking at how we can secure a fair division of the nation’s wealth”.
Richard Leonard also spoke about the ongoing crisis with Carillion, one of the leading government contractors for the delivery costly PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contracts.
Acknowledging Labour’s responsibility for many of the older contracts, such as Ninewells Hospital and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Leonard said he would look to buy out of deals nearing the end of their 25 to 30 year lifespan: “I’m not going to undertake to buy out all of those PFI deals because there are too many of them. It would stop us doing the other things we want to do.”
Speaking after the event, Scottish Labour MSP Jenny Marra also announced that she would be introducing a Bill to Holyrood to scrap car parking charges at Ninewells Hospital, which was built under a PFI contract.
Leonard also announced that he would propose an Industrial Reform and Common Ownership Act, similar to the Land Reform legislation, which would give workers a “statutory preferential right to buy an enterprise when it is up for sale or facing closure”.
“Currently they argue for permanent membership of the Single Market without being a member of the EU. This would lead us to a position of being rule takers and not rule makers.” Richard Leonard
On Brexit, Leonard criticised the “shambolic” handling of negotiations by the Conservatives and said the Scottish Labour party was on a permanent General Election footing ahead of a national campaign day on Saturday.
Criticising SNP proposals for Scotland to remain in the Single Market, he said: “Currently they argue for permanent membership of the Single Market without being a member of the EU.
“This would lead us to a position of being rule takers and not rule makers. We believe Scotland and the rest of the UK deserves better,” Leonard said in his speech.
To be released in the coming days, Leonard said the party would publish a “Budget for Real Change” as an alternative to the Scottish Government’s budget.
Picture courtesy of Scottish Labour/Richard Leonard
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