6 November 2017

The average worker in Scotland has seen their wages plummet by almost £14 a week in real terms since the Tories came to power.

New analysis from Labour shows that the median weekly wage has fallen from £561 a week in 2010, to £547 in 2017.

Labour said the figures showed how working people had suffered under years of Tory austerity, and that the SNP had failed to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to protect the pay packets of working people.

The party challenged the SNP government to develop a strategy to lift wages and boost incomes in Scotland, saying the radical new powers of the Scottish Parliament meant that pointing the finger at Westminster was no longer good enough.

Labour would introduce a £10 an hour living wage, give public sector workers a pay rise and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to grow our economy.

Scottish Labour’s economy spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, said:

“These are deeply troubling figures that show the real price of Tory austerity, and the SNP’s failure to protect working people’s incomes.

“Both the UK and Scottish governments should be acting to protect people’s pay packets.

“The SNP government should develop a robust strategy to lift wages. The Scottish Parliament has powers over education, enterprise and economic development. It is not acceptable to simply point the finger down south. We need a plan to boost incomes in Scotland.

“Labour has a plan to make people better off. We would introduce a real living wage of £10 an hour, give hard-working public sector employees a pay rise and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to grow our economy. That would build a country that works for the many, not the few.”




1 November 2017

The SNP cannot hide from its record of NHS mismanagement, Scottish Labour said today.

Scottish Labour brought forward a motion highlighting how the SNP has let down patients and staff in our health service.

Most opposition parties united to condemn the SNP’s record – but it was saved from an embarrassing parliamentary defeat with the help of the Green Party.

Labour’s motion followed a damning Audit Scotland report into the state of our health service, which revealed:

• No progress and in some case declining performance on key performance indicators, with seven out of eight missed again

• The heath budget falling in real terms with health boards having to make unsustainable savings

• Spiralling levels of private agency and locum spending

• The NHS struggling to maintain quality of care

• An increase in the backlog of maintenance required – especially in buildings branded “high risk”

• A stubborn - and in some cases widening - inequality gap for public health

Speaking after the debate, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Anas Sarwar MSP said:

“The SNP is failing NHS patients and staff.

“A year ago Audit Scotland published the worst state of the NHS report since devolution. Twelve months on and standards have either stalled or declined.

“Seven out of eight key performance indicators are still being missed, with declining standards for cancer treatment and patients waiting for appointments.

“All this is happening amid a backdrop of underpaid, undervalued and under-pressure staff.

“The SNP’s mismanagement of our NHS has seen the health service lurch from crisis to crisis. Our NHS staff and patients deserve better.”



20 October 2017

Responding to the SNP government launching a consultation on the Scottish Investment Bank, Labour economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie said:

"A Scottish Investment Bank was a Labour manifesto commitment in June, and formed the centre piece of the SNP's attempted relaunch in the Programme for Government. Whilst imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the SNP appear to have only sketched this out on the back of a fag packet.

“With confidence low and our economy fragile, businesses want action now but beyond an advisory board Nicola Sturgeon has announced no detail in terms of how the bank should operate. It sums up the approach of a government that has completely lost direction over economic policy.

“Nationalist ministers want opposition parties to write their tax policy and the general public to explain to them what an investment bank should do.

“As always with the SNP, it’s spin before substance, and Scots are starting to see through it. “


14 October 2017

There has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of pupils being taught in classes of 30 or more since 2011, new analysis from Scottish Labour reveals.

In 2011 the number of children in primary classes of 30 or more stood at 31,842. The most recent figures show that number now stands at 44,667.

The SNP was famously elected in 2007 on a promise to cut classroom sizes in Primary 1-3. But since it formed a majority government in 2011 and Nicola Sturgeon making education her ‘top priority’ in 2015, the trend has been for increasingly large class sizes.

Labour said the numbers underline the failure of the SNP on education, with 4,000 fewer teachers since the SNP came to power and £1.5 billion cut from local council budgets which fund our schools.

Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said:

“The SNP came to power promising to cut classroom sizes – instead it has just cut the number of teachers in our schools.

“Promises, pledges and PR stunts on education cannot hide the SNP’s dismal record on our schools – 4,000 fewer teachers, £1.5 billion cut from local budgets, super-sized school classes and a stubborn attainment gap between the richest and the rest.

“Not only has the SNP betrayed parents and pupils with this broken promise – it is one of the reasons John Swinney was told to his face at SNP conference, that Scottish teachers are ‘on their knees’.

“Just as ten years of the SNP has left Scottish teachers among the lowest paid and most overworked in the developed world, they have also delivered some of the biggest class sizes in the world in Scottish schools.

“Nicola Sturgeon put her top minister in charge of the education brief – but John Swinney has found himself overwhelmed and is unable to explain how his misguided reforms will cut class sizes.

“The real reform our schools need is more funding. That is why Labour is the only party with a comprehensive plan to fix our schools, with a review of pay and conditions for teachers and a commitment to use the tax powers to stop the cuts and invest in education.

“The SNP has developed a habit of adopting Labour policies in recent months - including a dedicated bursary to attract more graduates to train as science, technology, engineering or mathematics teachers. Ministers should go a step further and take on board Labour’s plan to stop the cuts and give teachers a better deal.”


13 October 2017

There is a huge gap in the levels of physical activity between the richest and poorest in Scotland, Labour can reveal today.

There is an 18-point gap between the percentage of adults participating in physical activity, from sports to walking, between the richest and poorest groups.

69 per cent of people from the poorest backgrounds have taken part in some sort of physical or sporting activity in the past four weeks compared to 87 per cent from the most affluent.

Labour’s figures come from analysis of the 2016 Scottish Household Survey. It follows the 2016 Health survey which highlighted the link between deprivation and ill health.

Labour said the figures show the need for radical action to close the inequality gap in society, and the failing approach of the SNP towards public health policy.

The party also said the gap was a further reason for Derek Mackay to resist calls to charge council leisure centres business rates.

Scottish Labour’s public health spokesperson Colin Smyth said:

“These figures show the challenges our health service will face in years to come unless SNP ministers get their act together on public health.

“We know there is a link between deprivation and ill health, and we can now identify a clear ’activity gap’ between the richest and the poorest. We need to see some credible action to close this gap, or our NHS will simply shoulder an even greater burden for years to come.

“The SNP government should commission a review into the impact of austerity on physical activity. £1.5 billion cut from local council budgets in the past six years will have hammered local sports clubs and community groups, making it harder for people to access facilities.

“These figures show a sluggishness from the SNP in dealing with Scotland’s deep routed health inequalities. Even when it comes to taking a 30 minute walk there is a 20 point divide between our most and least deprived communities.

“Taking steps to close the activity gap now will boost public health for years to come – and ease the pressure on our NHS.”


9 October 2017

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon's refusal to rule out another independence referendum before 2021, Scottish Labour business manager James Kelly said:

“The Nationalists seem unable to accept the result in June.

“The voters sent Nicola Sturgeon a message loud and clear in the general election - when the SNP lost almost half its MPs – that they do not want another divisive independence referendum.

“It is time the First Minister listened to that message and ruled out another divisive referendum for the duration of this parliament.”


8 October 2017

Responding to John Swinney's announcement at SNP conference today, Scottish Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said:

"Hardly a day goes by now without the SNP U-turning and giving into Labour demands.

"Scotland's schools are blighted with a teaching shortage, with 4,000 fewer teachers since the SNP came to power, and urgent action is needed.

"We welcome John Swinney adopting one of the policies from our ten point plan for Scotlands schools, and look forward to him seeing the sense of the other nine too."