Findlay To Make Pledge On Poverty

8 November 2014, 06:02 | Updated: 8 November 2014, 09:38

Neil Findlay will pledge to end poverty in Scotland as he officially launches his campaign for the Labour leadership.

The MSP will set out his vision for the future of the country and Scottish Labour at a rally in his home town of Fauldhouse, West Lothian.

He is expected to urge a return to the "timeless Labour values of community, solidarity, fairness and justice''.

A 2016 election manifesto under his leadership will vow to cut youth unemployment, replace the national minimum wage with a living wage, tackle the "scandal'' of social care and deliver an NHS "fit to meet the demands of the 21st century'', he will promise.

Mr Findlay faces competition from MP Jim Murphy and MSP Sarah Boyack for the role, dramatically vacated by Johann Lamont who resigned last month accusing Westminster colleagues of treating the party in Scotland like a branch office.

The left-wing MSP, who has won the support of several trade unions, is expected to draw on his background as a construction worker, student, housing worker and teacher to argue he understands the problems facing ordinary people.

He will say: "Where I've had the chance, I've made a difference - and I know that Labour, the party of the NHS, the party of devolution and the party of fairness at work has made a difference for Scotland and can do so again.

"We have to use the powers we have and the powers we will get to make a difference in every community to transform Scotland and improve the lives of all our people.

"And to achieve that we must put tackling poverty, tackling health and wealth inequality at the heart of all we do.

"It is shameful that families in our country cannot afford to feed their children or heat their homes and have to rely on food banks.

"A national strategy to end poverty in Scotland will be at the heart of our 2016 manifesto when I am Labour leader.''

Mr Findlay will say that if elected leader and then first minister, he will move to give vocational education the same priority as academic education and end "the zero hours, low pay culture'' in the workplace.

He will say: "The most equal societies are the most successful societies so it will be my aim to end exploitation and insecurity in the workplace, replacing the national minimum wage with a living wage.

"It is not acceptable that in 2014 over 400,000 Scots earn under £7.85 per hour. Tackling poverty pay is a political choice and it is one that I will make.''

The MSP will say that "more and more'' of Scotland's care homes are failing to provide an acceptable standard of care.

"I will put an end to the social care scandal and will make social care a rewarding and fairly paid career - this is about the well-being of our elderly people, not about the profit margins of the company shareholders,'' he will say.

On the NHS, he is expected to pledge: "I will ensure it is fit to meet the demands of the 21st century. But let me be clear - there will be no privatisation of Scotland's NHS under my leadership.''

Mr Findlay will say that he fully supports the Smith Commission process to deliver on further powers for the Scottish Parliament.

He will tell supporters: "Labour delivered the Scottish Parliament. We initiated the powers that will come from the Scotland Act and we support further devolution now.

"But unlike the nationalists I have never confused constitutional change with social change.

"It's not devolving more powers that makes a difference, it's having the political will to use them that matters.

"Under my leadership Labour will use the new powers that come to change Scotland.

"That is the sort of leadership that Labour needs to show and that's the sort of leadership I'll bring.''