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Trade union leaders and socialist MSPs call on Labour to ‘be bolder’ about pandemic recovery

TRADE union leaders in Scotland and socialist MSPs called on Labour today to be bolder in its opposition to neoliberal efforts from both the Scottish and UK governments as Britain looks to recover from the coronavirus crisis. 

Speaking at the Morning Star Scotland conference, leading left-wing voices from across Britain came together to discuss the need for a people’s recovery from the pandemic that puts power in the hands of workers. 

Chaired by Lynn Henderson of the PCS union, the meeting opened with STUC general secretary Roz Foyer underlining the need for public ownership of utilities. Other speakers called for efforts outside Holyrood and Westminster to force political change. 

CWU Scottish secretary Craig Anderson reiterated that Royal Mail and other essential public services must also be brought back into public ownership to ensure that they and the key workers who deliver them are protected. 

He suggested that a national day of action could be organised to show employers and politicians that workers are serious about progressive change across Scotland. 

Former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said that he had been urging his party at Holyrood to adopt an extra-parliamentary strategy, since the co-operation agreement between the SNP and Greens has limited Labour’s influence.  

“Politically, the Labour Party needs to understand that, for the next four years and more, we are going to be firmly in opposition in Parliament,” he said. 

Mr Leonard called on his party colleagues in Westminster to oppose forthcoming Tory legislative proposals, including the Subsidies Control Bill, which aim to give Westminster centralised power over state aid and tendering in place of previous European Union rules.  

He also asked why current Scottish government discussions on the introduction of a national care service in Scotland suggest that the system could retain a profit motive, urging Scottish Labour’s leadership to lead on this issue. 

North Ayrshire Council leader Joe Cullinane agreed with the calls to make change away from central government, voicing support for more areas of Scotland to move towards the community wealth-building model that has been effectively implemented in the area. 

MSP Mercedes Villalba alleged that SNP ministers are often loath to use devolved powers. She backed the use of powers at local authority level to achieve socialist aims and questioned whether the Scottish government is serious about investing in communities. 

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