Earlier this week I was in Glasgow as Scottish Labour launched its campaign ahead of the independence referendum.
The United with Labour campaign will be working between now and the vote in September 2014 to set out a distinctive Labour vision of Scotland moving forward as part of the UK.
Developing this vision, the campaign will be focused and defined by the values and principles that underpin Labour’s politics – fairness, equality and social justice.
That work is already underway with the party’s Devolution Commission. The commission was brought together to examine the existing devolution settlement and to consider how it might be strengthened to better meet the needs of the people we serve.
The commission recently published its interim report – Powers for a Purpose – which sets out initial proposals focused on taxation, welfare and local democracy. The report provides a platform for further discussion of how we can enhance and develop devolution and I hope you can take the time to read it and send in your comments. As Labour’s Shadow Cabinet member for Local Government I am particularly interested in how we ensure that local services are both high quality and accountable given the range of challenges coming from the current financial squeeze from the SNP Government and the demographic changes taking place.
The work of United with Labour is in addition to, not in place of the cross-party Better Together campaign. Better Together brings together people from parties who have very different ideas about how to take Scotland forward but who have a shared belief that we are stronger as part of the UK. I’m also conscious that there are individual members of the public who are not members of any political party but who feel passionate about the benefits of a strong Scottish Parliament as part of the UK. Alongside the joint voice of Better Together, United with Labour will provide a distinctive, Labour vision of Scotland’s future ahead of the referendum.