Scottish Labour calls for “bold” reforms

Left Foot Forward's Devolution Correspondent Ed Jacobs reports on the launch of Scottish Labour's election manifesto.

Scottish Labour have outlined an ambitious vision to abolish youth unemployment by the end of the next parliament if it wins power on May 5th.

The ambition came as the centre piece of the party’s manifesto launch which included pledges such as:

• 10,000 work placements for unemployed young people;

• The introduction of a new Scottish living wage at a rate of at least £7.15 an hour;

• The guarantee of a modern apprenticeship for every suitably qualified young person who wants one;

• New jobs and specialist training for up to 1000 teachers, alongside a commitment to maintaining Scotland’s status as no tuition fee country;

• The launching of a consultation on an early years bill to deliver a common programme of support measures prior to birth and up to the age of three;

• The protection of NHS jobs will be a priority alongside the delivery of a national care service over the lifetime of the next parliament;

• Protecting frontline policing, with a new mandatory minimum jail sentence for those caught carrying knives and the establishment of single Scotland wide police and fire services;

• Better supporting employment opportunities for those who find themselves most removed from and disadvantaged in the labour market, as well as help for first time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder through a new “First Foot” scheme;

• The creation of up to 60,000 new green jobs by 2015, as well as the establishment of a new commission for rural Scotland.

In publishing the manifesto, Labour’s leader in Scotland, Iain Gray, put the party’s promises on jobs at the heart of its campaign, telling those assembled at  Clydebank College that Scotland needed “bold and ambitious plans”.

He declared:

“I think Scotland needs bold and ambitious plans now and that’s why we’ve committed ourselves to eradicating youth unemployment in the next parliament and creating 250,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”

Furthermore, as the UK coalition sought to regain the initiative over its crumbling NHS reforms, Gray argued that Labour would introduce “the boldest reform of the public sector since devolution”.

He continued:

“Going from eight police forces to one, eight fire services to one, integrating social care, reducing the number of health boards – these are all significant savings.

“Yes, there is some bold spending in there but there is bold reform as well, which can allow us to release resources to protect frontline services and invest in the things we need to do to create jobs and opportunities for our young people.”

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