Parliament Agrees " Significant Pressures" Faced by Midwives Must be Investigated

9 May 2019

Scottish Labour has won parliamentary recognition on the need for ‘urgent investigation’ of the significant workforce pressures being faced by midwives.

The party won cross-party support during a parliamentary debate, on the need for action to address the ‘low morale, bullying and work-related stress’ experienced by midwives in NHS Lothian which was raised in an open letter.

The letter claims that midwives do not have enough computers, equipment and pool cards to do their jobs.

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon has welcomed the commitment towards an investigation, and has called on the SNP Health Secretary to act swiftly to implement it.

Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Monica Lennon said:

“I’m pleased that Parliament has recognised the significant workforce pressures faced by midwives, and that the concerns raised by midwives in NHS Lothian need urgent investigation.

“Scottish Ministers must act swiftly to initiate an investigation and keep Parliament updated.

“These are challenges which are faced by midwives across the country, and that’s why we are also calling on the SNP to ensure that the Best Start reforms to midwifery and neonatal services are properly resourced.

“Midwives are absolutely crucial to the care of women and babies.

"The best way to celebrate their contribution to the NHS is by listening to their concerns and ensuring they have enough resources to do their jobs.”
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Number of College Students Studying IT-related Subjects has Fallen by 44 per cent

12 May 2019

The number of students studying Information Technology (IT) related subjects at college has fallen by 44 per cent since 2010/11, new analysis from Scottish Labour reveals.

The Scottish Funding Council’s Infact Database shows that the number of students studying IT at college has fallen from 41,113 in 2010/11 to 23,141 in 2017/18.

The proportion of those studying IT related subjects who are women has fallen by 11 per cent over the same period – accounting for 42 per cent of IT students in 2017/18, compared to 53 per cent in 2010/11.

Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Iain Gray said:

“It’s extremely worrying that the number of students studying IT related subjects in Scotland’s colleges has fallen so dramatically under the SNP.

“STEM subjects are vital for Scotland’s long term prosperity, and encouraging more women, in particular, into these subjects should be a key aim for the government.

“These trends are going in the exact opposite direction of where we need to be. We need to see urgent action from the Government to avoid real problems for society and the economy in future.”

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Richard Leonard’s Response to Nicola Sturgeon’s Conference Speech

28 April 2019

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon’s speech, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“Nicola Sturgeon is more interested in uniting her party than uniting our country.

“There was no attempt justify the SNP’s new policy to scrap the pound as soon as possible, a move which would ramp up austerity and force hundreds of thousands of families with mortgages to gamble their house, pensions and savings on an untested new currency.

“Instead of harnessing the powers of devolution to tackle poverty, she is intent on using her time in office to stir up support for a referendum that a majority of the country does not want.

“Scotland now has a clear choice of £70billion worth of investment with Labour to boost our public services and wider economy or another decade of austerity with the SNP and the Tories with a focus on divisive and destructive nationalism.”

On the announcement of loans for first time buyers, Richard Leonard said:

“Help to buy too often has not worked for first time buyers, and the SNP must ensure this new support goes to people who need it. The devil will be in the detail.

“Labour will reform our private rented sector and significantly increase the number of council houses we build.

“Scotland faces a housing emergency and today’s announcement is an insufficient response.”

On Nicola Sturgeon announcing a ‘climate emergency’, Richard Leonard said:

“The call for a climate emergency from Nicola Sturgeon just rings hollow.

“The SNP plan to cut Air Departure Tax by 50 per cent - a move that will massively increase emissions.

“And they have time and again opposed Labour’s call for net zero emissions “

“Labour will put environmental justice at the heart of our industrial strategy and ensure we respond to the climate emergency on the scale necessary.”


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SNP Endorse Pro-Austerity Growth Commission

23 April 2019

Commenting on the SNP officially adopting the Growth Commission's austerity plan for Scotland, Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said:

“Imposing a decade of austerity on the most vulnerable, tax cuts for big business and fewer rights for workers is now official SNP policy.

“The people of Scotland now have a clear choice between austerity and cuts with the SNP and the Tories, or £70billion worth of investment with a Labour government.

“Labour governments at Holyrood and Westminster will end low pay and the exploitation of workers, reverse the rise in poverty and homelessness, and put people before profit through public ownership of our public services.

“Under Labour, the wealthiest will pay more to fund our NHS, schools and local services. And we will invest in our people, our communities and industries, and shift the balance of power so our economy and society work in the interests of the many, not the few.”

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Comment on TSB Reducing Hours

23 April 2019

Commenting on TSB reducing hours at around 70 branches in Scotland, Scottish Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Ged Killen, said:

“The reduction of opening hours is a well-worn strategy by big banks as a prelude to closures. By restricting customers access, banks create a self-fulfilling prophecy where the consequential reduction in footfall is used as a justification to close branches. This is exactly what happened at a local TSB branch in my constituency.

“With 70 branches having their hours reduced it looks like TSB is preparing for mass closures across Scotland.

“Last year TSB suffered two major IT failures in just four months, resulting in customers queuing around the corner to access banking services when TSB’s online portal failed. With branches open less often customers run a heightened risk of being completely cut off, potentially for days. “Labour has continued to push for reforms to banking standard and ban ATM charges, ensuring customers have access to their accounts and access to cash for free.”

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Iain Gray Comment on Education Committee Evidence

24 April 2019

Commenting on today’s education committee evidence on the narrowing of the curriculum, Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, Iain Gray said:

"It is deeply worrying to hear from educationalists of the dangers of the narrowing curriculum in Scotland.

"For Professor Jim Scott to warn that ‘we are in danger of a generation going past who have not had a good experience in education’ should finally be the wake-up call for John Swinney and Education Scotland to act.

"The SNP implementation of the curriculum for excellence and the significant cuts to the resources in our classrooms are to blame.

"The reduction in subject choices in our schools is a reduction in opportunities for our young people."

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Richard Leonard : Currency Plan Cobbled Together To Appease Fundamental nationalists

20 April 2019

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon's latest comments on currency in a separate Scotland, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“This currency debate is a distraction from the real and serious problems Scotland faces - a low pay economy, exhausted public services and 1 in 4 children living in poverty.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s economic plan for independence is now being cobbled together to appease the fundamentalist wing of her party,when the country just wants her to focus on jobs,schools and hospitals.

“Leaving the UK would lead to unprecedented of austerity for Scotland’s public services. Each currency option the First Minister has tried simply makes that worse.

"The political dividing line in Scotland is clear: investment with Labour or another decade of austerity with the SNP and the Tories “

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Spending Per Pupil Plummets Under TheTories and the SNP

22 April 2019

- Spending per primary pupil down over £400 since 2010

The SNP has failed to protect our schools from Tory austerity, Labour said today, as new analysis shows a huge fall in per pupil funding since 2010.

Analysis of the Local Government Benchmarking Framework by Scottish Labour, reveals that real terms spending per primary pupil has fallen by £427 per head since 2010/11, and £265 per head for secondary pupils.

Labour analysis includes additional spending commitments made since Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister, such as the Pupil Equity Fund and the Scottish Attainment Challenge; showing that these policies do not come close to reversing the cuts that preceded them.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, Iain Gray, said:

“For almost a decade now the SNP has failed to stand up to Tory austerity, and instead turned Holyrood into a conveyor belt for cuts.

“The consequences of that is huge falls in per head spending for our school pupils, with spending per primary pupil over £400 less in real terms than it was in 2010.

“We can’t give our young people the best chance to get on in life while cutting school budgets and we will not see the attainment gap close with overworked teachers facing increasing class sizes.

“Labour would make the richest pay our fair share to invest in our pupils, teachers and schools to make Scotland a world leader in education again.”

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Richard Leonard : Currency Plan Cobbled Together To Appease Fundamental nationalists

20 April 2019

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon's latest comments on currency in a separate Scotland, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“This currency debate is a distraction from the real and serious problems Scotland faces - a low pay economy, exhausted public services and 1 in 4 children living in poverty.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s economic plan for independence is now being cobbled together to appease the fundamentalist wing of her party,when the country just wants her to focus on jobs,schools and hospitals.

“Leaving the UK would lead to unprecedented of austerity for Scotland’s public services. Each currency option the First Minister has tried simply makes that worse.

"The political dividing line in Scotland is clear: investment with Labour or another decade of austerity with the SNP and the Tories “

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More Than 130,000 Young People Will Get A Pay Rise Under Labour

20 April 2019

More than 130,000 young people in Scotland will get a pay rise with a Labour Government, new figures reveal.

An estimated 130,000 people in Scotland aged between 18 and 24 earned less than the living wage last year. These workers would see a boost in their pay packets under Labour’s plans to introduce a new £10 per hour real living wage.

In total, almost half a million workers across Scotland will get a pay rise with a Labour government.

Labour will transform the lives of young people by introducing a Minimum Student Income, free bus travel for the under 25s, banning zero hours contracts and introducing a ‘Mary Barbour’ law to control rising rents.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“Too many young people are struggling to get on in life because of low pay.

“How can a young person pay their rent never mind save for a deposit for a house when they are getting paid less than the living wage?

“This needs to end, and Labour will take action in government.

“Labour will transform the workplace by creating a £10 an hour minimum wage, ending exploitative zero hours contracts and extending free bus travel to everyone aged under 25.

“Labour will put more money in people's pockets and bring real change to our economy so that it works for the many, not the few.”

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Decade of SNP Cuts Sees College Staffing Levels Fall by 13 per cent

16 April 2019

There has been a 13.5 per cent reduction in full-time equivalent (FTE) staff in Scotland’s colleges since the SNP took power in 2007, new analysis from Scottish Labour reveals.

Statistics from the Scottish Funding Council show that in 2007/08, there were 12,653 FTE staff, while there are just 10,942 now, a cut of 1,711.

Analysis also reveals that there has been a 12.7 per cent reduction in the level of FTE teaching staff over the same period – a cut of 799.

The SNP regionalised colleges in 2013, a move opposed by unions and Labour.

As college lecturers consider further industrial action over a pay dispute, Labour said the figures highlight the SNP’s failure within Scotland’s further education sector.

Iain Gray MSP, Labour’s education spokesperson said:

“Colleges are key to jobs and growth, not to mention their important role in widening access to opportunities for disadvantaged young people.

“Since the SNP took power, and their subsequent botched regionalisation of the sector, further education in Scotland has suffered.

"Colleges have faced under investment, students have seen their numbers plummet by 120,000 and staff numbers have also declined.

“What’s more, staff and students are working in buildings in need of repairs totalling hundreds of millions of pounds.

“Hardworking lecturers are now also engaged in industrial action over a cost-of-living pay rise to which they are entitled.

“For too long further education has been seen by the SNP as the poor relation.

"That must end.”


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SNP Doubles Down on Refusal to Mitigate The Two Child Cap

15 April 2019

The SNP has doubled down on its refusal to mitigate the impact of the two child cap on tax credits and universal credit.

In an interview with "The Times", Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville refused to back using Holyrood’s powers to mitigate the cap, saying, “It is not our policy to alleviate the cap.”

The intervention from Somerville follows Finance Secretary Derek Mackay claiming the Scottish budget mitigates the worse of Tory Benefit cuts, but refusing to mitigate the two child cap.

The Scottish government’s own figures suggested mitigating the cap - and the ensuing,controversial raps clause - would have cost £69m in this financial year, less that 0.1 per cent of the total Scottish budget.

Scottish Labour Social Security spokesperson Mark Griffin MSP said:

“This stubborn refusal of the SNP to take action on the two child cap will exasperate people across Scotland.

“The 2016 Scotland Act delivered new powers to our parliament that allows for the creation of new social security payments for people in Scotland.

“If the SNP government wanted to, it could effectively end the cap and scrap the rape clause, and do what we can to reverse the devastating effects of this callous policy.

“Instead, ministers are refusing to do so, despite the Scottish Parliament taking action on the bedroom tax and housing benefit cuts.

“This inconsistency will infuriate people across the country who want to see the government using its powers to protect people.”

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Richard Leonard : Address to the STUC

15 April 2019

A Scottish Labour government would replace the council tax and set new standards on workers’ rights, Richard Leonard has told the STUC congress.

The Scottish Labour leader highlighted a new report from the Jimmy Reid Foundation, and backed calls for the council tax to be replaced in its current form.

On council tax Richard Leonard said:

“As the new Unison Jimmy Reid Foundation report published just today points out: approaching half of all Council Tax revenues are devoted to servicing the interest on borrowing and PFI/PPP loans.

“It is time that this came to an end. I agree with the report that it is time to shift the burden of taxation onto property and land.

“The council tax in its current form has to go. It is not fair and it is not fit for purpose.”

Mr Leonard also backed calls to commit to a Cabinet Secretary for Labour in the next Scottish Labour government, as well as seeking the devolution of employment law with a ‘pre-Brexit floor’ to ensure workers’ rights can only be built on, not rolled back, saying:

“We should be establishing new sectoral bargaining arrangements. But we want to go further: a future Scottish Labour Government under my leadership will not only establish sectoral collective bargaining we will establish sectoral industrial and economic planning as well as part of a long overdue industrial strategy for Scotland: bringing together trade unions, employers and government.

“So that instead of time and time again demanding last ditch defensive rescues in the event of market failure you, the Scottish trade union movement is at the very heart of pro-actively planning for economic success.

“Because we need trade union voices. And we need industrial democracy. Not just when things go wrong, but to help make sure things go right in the first place.

“And if we have not learned that, we have learned nothing. Go and ask the workers at BiFab, go and ask the workers at the Caley rail works in Springburn, go and ask the workers at Michelin here in Dundee.

“When I met Marc Jackson and the Michelin shop stewards a few weeks ago, he told me that Michelin did not close the factory, the market closed the factory.

“This is a city where decent industrious working people have been badly let down by neo-liberal economics, failed by an economic system with too much market and not enough planning.

“Where too much power rests in too few hands, and all too often in faraway board rooms.

“So for the avoidance of doubt. My aim as the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party is not to simply lead a better management team than the SNP.

“It is to lead a Scottish Labour Government worthy of the name. Committed to bringing about a real shift in power and wealth including an extension of industrial and economic democracy.

“Not least so that the voices of women are heard for the first time in the corridors of economic power This is not incidental to the change we need to make. It is its very essence.

“So I will appoint a Cabinet Secretary for Labour in a Scottish Labour Government . And I can also confirm today that we will protect and strengthen workers’ rights by seeking the devolution of employment law in which we will set a pre-Brexit floor to ensure that workers in Scotland are not caught up in a race to the bottom.”

Richard Leonard also called for the European elections to be a call to action against the populist politics of right wing nationalism, and to send a message to Nigel Farage that the politics of hate has no place in the UK, saying:

“In the coming weeks we will be fighting elections to the European Parliament. So my appeal to you is this; do not allow this election to become a false choice between competing nationalisms: British and Scottish.

“Do not simply be a voter. Be an activist.

“Join the campaign to defeat the right wing populism of Farage and UKIP, and help build a movement for radical reform and real change in the European Union as part of the Party of European Socialists alliance.”

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Household Savings Plummet Under The Tories

12 April 2019

The Scottish economy isn’t working for working people, Labour said today, as new analysis reveals household savings have plummeted since the Tories came to power.

Labour analysis of household savings in Scotland reveals a 60 per cent drop in household savings since the Tories came to power in 2010.

In 2010, Scottish households on average had £3,840.41 in the bank, but by 2017 that had plummeted to £1,517.31 per household.

Labour said the figures revealed the broken economy under the Tories.

Labour Finance spokesperson James Kelly MSP said:

“The Tories came to power promising a long term economic plan – but the impact of a disastrous near decade of austerity has been to shrink savings for families in Scotland.

“The Tories used to try and compare our complex economy to a household budget to justify their crusade to shrink the state – but instead all they managed to do was to shrink household budgets themselves.

“This is as a result of a cost of living crisis fuelled by stagnant wages and personal debt. All the while the incomes of the super wealthy have soared because of tax cuts at the top.

“Labour will make our economy work for the many, not just a privileged few by investing in our people communities and public services.”

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