Scottish Labour leader pledges ‘transformational’ £70bn investment

Scotland has a choice between “transformational investment” under a Labour government or “turbo-charged austerity” with the SNP, Richard Leonard has told voters.

The Scottish Labour leader used the start of his party’s conference in Dundee to contrast Labour’s economic proposals with the future prospects of an independent Scotland.

Plans in the SNP Growth Commission report to reduce Scotland’s deficit could mean an additional £7.5 billion in cuts to public spending over five years, Labour said.

Meanwhile, Mr Leonard pledged a Labour government at Westminster would invest £70 billion of extra cash in Scotland over a decade.

Speaking ahead of the conference, he said: “It is clearer now than ever that the real choice is either more cuts and division with the Tories and SNP, or hope and investment under Labour.

“While the SNP plan turbo-charged austerity for Scotland, Labour offers a decade of transformational investment.

“We will bring an end to austerity and we will shift the balance of wealth and power in Scotland, ensuring the wealthiest pay more to fund our NHS, our schools and the services we all rely on.

“We will end low pay and the exploitation of workers, reverse the rise in poverty, homelessness, inequality and food banks, and invest in our communities and our industries.

“We will put people before profit and transform our economy and our society so they work in the interests of the many, not the few.”

The conference gets under way days after Mr Leonard came under fire from predecessor Kezia Dugdale, who accused him of censoring Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler by not giving them a platform to speak in the main hall of the conference.

Ms Dugdale went on to claim Mr Leonard had altered text written by Ms Stihler for the conference agenda without her consent.

Meanwhile, Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, criticised Labour’s handling of allegations of anti-Semitism, saying: “The whole thing frankly stinks.”

In addition, Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said Mr Leonard had failed to deal with a Labour councillor who made Islamophobic remarks about him.

Mr Yousaf said on Twitter: “The msg that sends to minority communities is that Labour has given a free pass to hate.”

SNP MSP George Adam hit out at the leader, saying: “Richard Leonard has no authority, no clue and, frankly, stands no chance of rescuing a failing Labour Party.”