There were times in history that the visit of a Labour leader to Scotland was a rare foray into hostile territory. Those days are long gone now. In recent months, Keir Starmer has been in Scotland on an almost weekly basis as people increasingly turn to Labour to deliver the change the country needs.
With the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election campaign in full swing, Scots are seeing more and more Labour frontbenchers, with Scotland at the heart of Labour’s vision for the UK. Yesterday, it was my pleasure to be with Labour’s indomitable deputy leader, Angela Rayner. She knows Labour’s path to victory runs through Scotland.
More than that, Angela knows that to win Scots' support Labour must offer a bold vision for change and progress. She knows the struggles that working people across the UK experience first-hand and has ensured support for them is front and centre of Labour’s offer. Our ‘New Deal for Working People’ will see a transformation of the world of work, comparable with the 1997 minimum wage and the equal pay victories of the Wilson era.
Labour’s new deal will end the scandal of zero-hours contracts, giving workers security. It will ban the scourge of fire-and-rehire practices used by bad bosses to avoid paying workers fairly. It will strengthen protections, delivering workers’ rights, and raise the national minimum wage to a real living wage. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Throughout Scotland, families in work are struggling to get by as food prices and energy bills soar, and poor pay holds them back. What Labour proposes is nothing less than a fundamental re-wiring of our economy so that it works for working people. With Labour, never again will mothers wait anxiously to see if they have any work that week due to zero-hours contracts. Never again will a worker be laid off and immediately offered a new contract with poorer pay and conditions.
Labour’s plans are not just about economic justice, but economic growth too. On Scotland's high streets, to-let signs are sprouting like weeds. Once bustling shopping arcades are silent, and family businesses and local institutions are closing up shop.
Labour will transform our local economies. It will cut bills and raise wages for working people, allowing for more money to be spent in shops and businesses. It will stimulate economic growth and bring towns back to life with fresh investment. If work pays for working people, society shares the benefits. Economic justice and economic growth are not in conflict. They are two sides of the same coin.
For years, politics has been dominated by division and decline. What Labour offers is a new politics of hope, growth and justice. Once more streets like Rutherglen Main Street can ring to the sound of cash registers and families can rely on the old adage of “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay”.
No one should be held back from fulfilling their full potential. No community or town should be left to decline. Labour's mission is to make work pay and the economy enable the potential of all to be unlocked.
We will smash the class ceiling holding working people back and show that there is opportunity for all and hope for the future.
Jackie Baillie MSP is Scottish Labour’s deputy leader