Scotland Election 2016

Holyrood 2016: STUC calls for 'bold ambitious policies'

STUC conferency Image copyright STUC

The Scottish Trades Union Congress is to call on Scottish party leaders to bring forward "bold ambitious policies" in the Holyrood election campaign.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith will warn that it could take time to take advantage of new devolved powers.

Responsibilities over income tax and welfare will be transferred to MSPs from April 2017.

Mr Smith will make the plea as the STUC annual congress begins in Dundee on Monday.

He will argue that the campaign in the run-up to the election on 5 May "doesn't yet reflect the possibilities provided by new powers".

'Ambitious policies'

And he will say that the vote will be "the most important election to take place since the Scottish Parliament was re-established in 1999".

Mr Smith wants party leaders to bring forward "bold ambitious policies" that will attempt to tackle some of the "hitherto intractable problems in the Scottish economy and society".

Mr Smith will say: "The next Scottish government really has to aspire to more than just managerial competence.

"Unfortunately, the campaign going on around us doesn't yet reflect the possibilities provided by new powers. Indeed, the nature and quality of debate suggests that it could take some time for our political parties to recognise that new opportunities exist, let alone grasp them."

Image caption Mr Smith is calling on all the political party leaders to present ambitious policies.

He wants parties to bring forward "policies that will have a real impact on reducing poverty and inequality, that are based on the evidence of what works rather than their populist appeal or soundbite suitability".

In a statement ahead of the election, the STUC is making a number of key demands on the next government, including:

  • not implementing Westminster's controversial trade union reforms
  • "significant tax reform" featuring the adoption of a "new approach" to taxing high earners with new bands and thresholds
  • the replacement of the council tax with a "steeply progressive property tax based on regular revaluations"

With the congress due to hear from both SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Mr Smith will say: "We need a new approach to industrial policy, a step-change in support for childcare and for a Trade Union Bill in Scotland designed to embed Scotland's alternative approach to industrial relations throughout the public sector and the wider economy."

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