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As May u-turns on social care...

Dugdale pledges investment in public services

Kezia Dugdale
Kezia Dugdale: ‘The Tories have failed’ (photo by Terry Murden)

Scottish Labour promised a “massive investment in public services” today just hours after Theresa May was forced into an embarrassing u-turn over her own social care policy.

The Tory leader today reversed her manifesto commitment to make elderly people pay more for their social care.

Opponents dubbed her plans a “dementia tax”, saying they would particularly hit those who need long-term care at home.

Today she insisted nothing had changed, but said there would be an “absolute limit” on the money people will have to pay.

Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, accused the Tories of failing to live up to their claims to be a caring party.

Launching her party’s election manifesto, she said: “For the past seven years, a Tory UK Government has hurt our country. First with David Cameron and now with Theresa May.

“On all counts they have failed – in protecting our union of nations, in protecting our most vulnerable, in growing our economy.

“They told us that they would be a different sort of Conservative. Compassionate. Caring. Even kind.

“Conservatives who had left the nasty party tag behind. Just words. Their actions were very different.  

“They delivered cuts to disabled people, the bedroom tax and the rape clause. At every chance they slashed support and threatened opportunity.”

Ms Dugdale ridiculed the Tories’ attempts to describe themselves as a party of working people.

“What a joke. But it’s not funny. It’s offensive. Working people today are set to be £1,400 a year worse off by 2020.

“They’ve cut tax credits, watched as wages have gone into freefall and turned our economy into one where low paid, insecure work and zero hours contracts are endemic.

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‘All this government has done is made it harder to find a decent, well-paid, secure job’

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“Conservative Governments are supposed to respect hard work. But all this government has done is made it harder to find a decent, well-paid, secure job.”

She said Labour would protect the triple lock protection on pensions which the Tories want to abandon. 

“The Tories are breaking their promise to older people, just as they broke their promise to the WASPI women who have been hit by the changing of the state pension age with devastating consequences,” she said.

Ms Dugdale also attacked the SNP for its “obsession” with independence and accused them of reverting to muck-raking and smear tactics to defend their policies.

“If Scotland returns SNP MPs to the House of Commons in the same numbers as they did in 2015, Nicola Sturgeon will use that result as a mandate to demand another referendum.

 “And she will exploit every piece of Tory cruelty to make the case for independence,” she said. 

Leaders debate: ‘listen to the people’, says Dugdale

She urged SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to take note of the real issues concerning Scottish voters and referred to the challenge from audience members during the televised leaders’ debate.

“Look at what happens when the voices of real people across Scotland are heard. Last night’s TV debate was a watershed moment in this election campaign.

“You know, the pundits are always quick to talk about the winners and losers from TV debates.

“But we all know who won last night. The nurses and the teachers, who shamed Nicola Sturgeon by exposing the reality of life under the SNP.

“Those ordinary, decent, hard-working people of Scotland found their voice last night. The nurse who challenged the First Minister to turn up at hospital one day without the red carpet and TV cameras.

“The teacher who has experienced first-hand the declining standards in our schools.”

On the economy, she said: “We are struggling to increase productivity and get our economy on the move again.

“That’s why Labour will create a Scottish Investment Bank with £20 billion of investment power to help businesses grow and stimulate the Scottish economy.

“And we’ll invest in our crumbling infrastructure to connect our country together through a £250 billion National Transformation Fund to drive investment across the UK.”

During questions she said Labour would legislate to halt bank branch closures in rural areas and said the one manifesto pledge that would make the most difference to people’s lives was the commitment to a £10 an hour living wage.

Nuclear position blasted

She fended off criticism of leader Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the IRA. Amid jeers aimed at the media from a room full of party supporters, she said Labour had been instrumental in the Good Friday agreement.

She was also dismissive of questions on the party’s policy on Trident nuclear weapons. Scottish Labour’s manifesto makes a commitment to Trident renewal.

Glasgow North SNP candidate Patrick Grady later said: “This is final proof, if it were needed, that Labour in Scotland still takes its orders from London – the ‘branch office’ is back in business.

“All of Kezia Dugdale’s claims about being an independent party have been exposed as bluster by today’s manifesto, which shows beyond doubt that Labour’s UK bosses continue to call the shots. 

“Despite Labour’s Scottish conference voting against Trident – and last year’s Holyrood manifesto ‘opposing the renewal’ – the party now backs a new generation of weapons of mass destruction in Scottish waters.

“That is a betrayal of its own membership, and shows where Labour’s priorities lie – spending countless billions of pounds on nuclear weapons instead of on tackling austerity and investing in our future.

“Trident is an obscenity – and only a vote for the SNP will see strong opposition to a new generation of nuclear weapons being imposed on Scotland.” 

“Trident is an obscenity – and only a vote for the SNP will see strong opposition to a new generation of nuclear weapons being imposed on Scotland.”

Retailers concern

Retailers expressed concern at a pledge to stop shops from opening on New Year’s Day. 

Under the Act, which was passed by Holyrood some 10 years ago, opening a shop on Christmas Day is currently banned in Scotland however opening on Ne’er Day is not. 

David LonsdaleDavid Lonsdale (right), director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Where there is demand from customers and availability of staff then shops ought to continue to be free to choose to open on New Year’s Day if they so wish.

“Banning trading on New Year’s Day is outdated and ill-thought out considering customers can already shop online whenever they choose.

“It is also unclear why shops have been singled-out and not other sectors such as leisure, tourism and hospitality businesses.

“Any legislative attempt to implement a trading ban would send out a very poor signal and flies in the face of the strenuous efforts which are being made to revitalise our high streets and to promote Scotland as at destination at New Year for visitors.”

 

 



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