A week today, Holyrood will resume after summer recess.
Scottish Labour will focus on what we would do to use the parliament’s powers so that Scotland is the best country in the world to live, work, grow up and grow old in.
All summer, Scottish Labour have been tackling the big questions facing our country.
Anas Sarwar has established a Health and Social Care Commission.
After a decade of the SNP, our hospitals simply don’t have enough doctors and nurses. This commission will help deliver a blueprint to make our NHS fit for the next century.
Jackie Baillie and Richard Leonard have developed an industrial strategy to create good, decent jobs to sustain and drive Scotland’s economy forward.
In education, Iain Gray has outlined plans to make Scotland’s schools the best in the world.
On transport and the environment, Labour have outlined plans for a fairer, greener Scotland. We would take back control of public transport with a People’s ScotRail and by regulating the buses. Fracking would be banned.
I believe Scotland can be a better country if it’s a fairer country.
That’s why, since day one of my leadership, I’ve made the case for using the new powers delivered by the Vow over tax and social security.
Since 2010, the number of people in Scotland earning more than £150,000 a year has nearly doubled – but the SNP still won’t use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to introduce a 50p top rate of tax.
You can’t help the poorest if you refuse to ask the richest to pay their fair share. We would use the new tax powers to deliver more investment in education.
Properly funding our schools, colleges and universities is the most important long-term social and economic investment a government can make.
Scotland also has huge new powers over social security.
That’s why I, and organisations such as the Child Poverty Action Group, want to see those powers used to increase child benefit.
Under our plans, family budgets would be boosted by £240 extra for every child in Scotland by 2020.
It’s a move that would lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty and allow families to spend more on the essentials.
We’d also put money back in people’s pockets by scrapping the unfair council tax. The SNP came to power in 2007 promising to abolish it but, a decade on, all they got rid of was the council tax freeze.
We would move to a fairer, rebalanced system where 80 per cent of people would pay less.
These are the kind of radical changes a Scottish government focused on making Scotland better could deliver.
Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since the SNP Government had that kind of focus.
In 2016, the SNP lost their majority at Holyrood, in 2017 they lost their direction in government.
After a decade of distraction, false dawns and false promises Scotland is hungry for radical, real change.
Scottish Labour MSPs will use every opportunity to force through that radical change in the next parliamentary session.
This article first appeared in the Daily Record newspaper on the 29th of August 2017.