Powers for a purpose

Monday 1st December 2014


On September 18th the people of Inverclyde and Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom.  But they also sent out a clear message that the status quo was no longer an option and that they wanted change.

In response, the political parties made a promise to deliver a powerhouse parliament. Last week, that commitment was delivered when the Smith Commission, which was set up in the wake of the Independence Referendum, set out a range of measures which will transform Holyrood forever.

The proposals will see extensive new powers over tax, welfare and job creation being transferred to the Scottish Parliament, which will sit alongside the substantial powers it already has over health, education, transport and justice.

I have argued, for some considerable time, both publicly and within the Labour Party, for extending the powers to the parliament and so I warmly welcome last week’s announcement. However, we need to ensure that we use these new powers with a purpose.

For too long, the Scottish Government have complained about the powers that they don’t have, rather than using the ones they already have at their disposal. As a result, huge inequalities between the poorest and richest parts of the country still remain, in-work-poverty is sadly rising, poor pay is the norm for many and tens of thousands of college places have been slashed.

Following last week’s announcement by the Smith Commission, we now have a massive opportunity to change the way we do politics for the benefit of the people of Inverclyde and Scotland. I call on politicians from all sides to finally rise to this challenge.