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Neil Findlay: the reluctant politician determined to change Scottish politics

IMG_0059.JPGThis is the text of the speech Neil Findlay made launching his campaign today, at the Fauldhouse Miners Welfare Club in the village in which he lives.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and thank for you for coming along in such big numbers this morning to the launch of my campaign to become the leader of the Scottish Labour Party. Today I want to set out my vision for the future of Scotland – a Scotland based on timeless Labour values of community, solidarity, fairness and justice.

These are the values I was taught and had instilled in me by my parents and by the people I met growing up in this great community here in Fauldhouse. And I’d like to tell you a bit about why I believe only the Labour Party with these values, running through everything we do can lead Scotland and why I am the person best placed to lead our party.

I never sought to have a career in politics. I am not a career politician, I am not a machine politician. The modern day conventional political career is school to university to working for a politician then into parliament – that’s not me.

Like many people here I left school at 16 with not too many qualifications. I started my working life as a YTS trainee, then did an apprenticeship with my dad. For the next 10 years I worked as a bricklayer meeting some of most intelligent, funny and entrepreneurial people you will ever find.

But with the encouragement of my family I returned to education first at college eventually graduating from university. And working as a housing officer I saw how good quality housing changed people’s lives and provided a secure environment for their children to grow up. As a teacher I saw the power of education but I also saw many pupils failing to reach their potential and denied opportunities.

So I know what it’s like to be a construction worker, a student, a housing worker and a teacher I know the problems people face because I’ve lived them.

And as an MSP I’ve worked tirelessly at delivering for people, in this community and beyond, whether it be women injured by faulty medical products or workers blacklisted for standing up for their workmates I have been on their side campaigning for justice. Where I’ve had the chance, I’ve made a difference – and I know that Labour, the party of the NHS the party of devolution and the party of fairness at work has made a difference for Scotland and can do so again.

We have to use the powers we have and the powers we will get to make a difference in every community to transform Scotland and improve the lives of all our people.vAnd to achieve that we must put tackling poverty tackling health and wealth inequality at the heart of all we do. It is shameful that families in our country cannot afford to feed their children or heat their homes and have to rely on foodbanks. A national strategy to end poverty in Scotland will be at the heart of our 2016 manifesto when I am Labour leader.

Central to that will be a pledge to put an end to youth unemployment – no young person should be left behind – training, skills and new jobs – opportunities for all must be our ambition and Labour will deliver. And in education I will ensure that vocational education has the same priority as academic education so that we can prepare our young people to take up these new opportunities in the world of work.

And when people are in work they have to have a sense of security and feel valued. Nelson Mandela said that “Poverty is not an accident, it is man-made and like apartheid and slavery it can be eradicated by the action of human beings.”

The zero hours, low pay culture we see now is not just bad for people – it is bad for our economy. The most equal societies are the most successful societies so it will be my aim to end exploitation and insecurity in the workplace replacing the national minimum wage with a living wage.

It is not acceptable that in 2014 over 400,000 Scots earn under £7.85 per hour. Tackling poverty pay is a political choice and it is one that I will make.
The great John Smith once said said:

Governments are not impotent. They have the power at their disposal to shape events, bring about change, to improve the lives of the people whose trust they carry. That is why it is unacceptable, so unbearable to see the injustice in our country, the waste of human talent, the lack of hope, the loss of pride, because it is not inevitable.”

And he was right. Where we have the power to act we must do so. Now let me tell you about one the greatest scandals of our time – social care. 500,000 bed days lost to the NHS because people are stuck in hospital and can’t get home because our social care system doesn’t work for them. More and more care homes failing to provide an acceptable standard of care for our older people.

Our mums and dads, our grannies and grandads subjected to 15 minute care visits from carers who want to care but can’t do their job because of the way that contracts are determined.

I will put an end to the social care scandal and will make social care a rewarding and fairly paid career – this is about the well-being of our elderly people not about the profit margins of the company shareholders. And in our NHS the greatest social policy of the 20th century, there is pressure like never before in its history. GP’s closing waiting lists, departments bursting at the seams, delayed discharges in every area, patients boarded out in wards not designed for their condition, staff shortages up and use of the private sector up.

It is for these reasons I will bring forward a whole scale review of the NHS in Scotland to ensure it is fit to meet the demands of the 21st century. But let me be clear – there will be no privatisation of Scotland’s NHS under my leadership.

And there is one other issue where there is so much need that I could not leave here today without highlighting it. That is the growing housing crisis we have here in Scotland.

Poor housing impacts on health, educational attainment, access to employment and poverty. Over 150,000 people are on Social Housing waiting lists today – more than the entire population of the city of Dundee. This can’t go on – Labour can, and under my leadership will tackle this head on.

As leader of Labour in Scotland I will bring forwarded a national house building programme to be included in our 2016 manifesto. As the next Labour First Minister of Scotland I will roll out that programme building 50,000 new homes for rent over the term of that Labour government.

Not only will this provide much needed homes but it will create skilled jobs, training places and put demand into local economies. But fundamentally this is about realising that politics as usual is not enough when there are thousands of families in need of somewhere decent to live.

We must give people hope. We must act to put a roof over our people’s heads. We must move beyond sympathetic rhetoric and deliver decent homes for every child, for every family, for every person.
In my Scotland, a Labour Scotland our Scotland, having a roof over your head will be a basic fundamental right.

And on the question of further powers for the Scottish parliament. Labour delivered the Scottish parliament. We initiated the powers that will come from the Scotland act and we support further devolution now. I fully support that process But unlike the nationalists I have never confused constitutional change with social change. It’s not devolving more powers that makes a difference its having the political will to use them that matters. Under my leadership Labour will use the new powers that come to change Scotland.

That is the sort of leadership that Labour needs to show and that’s the sort of Leadership I’ll bring.

What sort of party are we? Well the clue is in the name. We’re the Labour Party – the party that stands up for working people. The party that challenges poverty, homelessness and inequality. The party that works for an economy that works for all the people. Where all the people are able to work.

Friends, Our ambitions for Scotland must be big enough to match Scotland’s needs. That’s what I want us to be doing. Taking Labour forward, Taking Scotland forward. Labour values for a Labour Scotland. That’s the challenge that faces us – lets rise to it.



  1. Robert says:

    He’s more to the left then Murphy for example but I’m sure a few on this site will be hopeful if not praying bfor the Blair-rite Murphy to win the job for Progress the power hungry group within labour.

    If I was in Scotland I would be hopeful the left winger would win but it does not matter we have a left wing government in the SNP which is what most in Scotland will see.

    Jim the Progress man Murphy 2008 just before the biggest bang in living history stated never before has so many people been in work single mothers, (something to be proud of) disabled and the sick yep he was proud of that as well and now the most hated man we are told within Labour is Freud, but we forget who gave him his task his job, Blair.

    Murphy has this to say To do this, we must take a step back to explore what lies ahead for us over the next ten years. The Pathways to the Future process which the Prime Minister and Chancellor announced in the autumn, is central to this. As part of this process, we have asked David Freud to lead a wide-ranging review of our welfare to work strategy. This seminar is the second of a series that I hope will contribute to this, to generate new thinking, and to make us really focus on the long-term view.

    yes and it turned up with Murphy Purnell and Freud with Blair in the back ground. with the new ATOS and UNUM Provident .

    Findley looks to be the best bet but for me the team who have fought like hell against the welfare reforms have been the SNP not Lamont or the labour party.

    Sorry if I was in Scotland it would be the SNP until such time as I hear the full fact of the labour party and welfare reforms.

    or whether Progress wins it first step on the ladder of a take over of the party with Murphy.

    Work sets you free… after all or so New labour stated.

  2. David Ellis says:

    Findlay won’t be changing anything. He’s a New Labour apparatchik and Westminster flunky. He is already talking about ending universal benefits and that will include means testing for access to health services. For Scottish Labour to have any chance it needs to adopt a pro-independence stance and put forward a radical programme for the transition to working class power and socialism. Apart from that it’s screwed whether it picks Findlay or the unionist thug Murphy.

    1. Robert says:

      I’ve not looked at Findlay or what Murphy is offering is this is right then stand back for an SNP landslide as I said if you want to vote for the left we have a party in power already.

  3. David Pavett says:

    Murphy would be the kiss of death for Scottish Labour so I want to him to be defeated. However, this statement by Neil Findlay worries me. It amounts to little more than a wish list. It is fine to say that that we should “put an end to youth unemployment” but should we not be given at least a hint as to how that would be achieved? And then there is the essentially meaningless demand “that vocational education has the same priority as academic education”.

    I hope that Neil Findlay is going to come down in the next few days from such windy rhetoric and give us some idea of how Scottish Labour, and not just him personally, could bring about the changes he promises.

    1. David Ellis says:

      Yes, anybody can pledge to put an end to youth unemployment. Even the Tories pledge full employment but they don’t say how. Undoubtedly what Findlay has in mind is an expensive `job creation’ scheme whereby some bottom feeding private company organises for unemployed youth to work for benefits.

      Labour should be pledging full-employment but not to be achieved through slave labour or inflationary keynesian policies designed to maybe achieve it at some distant point in the future that never arrives but via an actual regime of full-employment whereby school and college leavers and unemployed workers who cannot find their own job are bought into the local workforce to share in the productive work with each paid the minimum of a trade union living wage. We can then start to move away from the repulsive bourgeois welfare state to a democratic workers’ state. Capitalism must no longer be allowed to `maintain’ an army of surplus labour. That should be basic ABC for so-called socialists.

  4. Robert says:

    I’ve looked at what he said and I looked at his past statements and I’ve got to say if somebody spoke like this in England he’d be called a Hard lefty and I like the way he speaks, and I believe him when he says the NHS will be safe with him. Also our young people have to have the chance of getting a job and the way to do this is to ensure everyone of them is given a trade or training and why not ensure they are paid.

    He talks about social housing something labour in England has stopped talking about except to say it will be taken away from people who do not have jobs.

    Whether he can do all the things he promises I do not know but he sounds like a lefty to me and boy do we need somebody who can offer us hope.

    If I was in Scotland these days and I love the place when I worked in Falkirk and Grangemouth, what we need are people with dreams so long as they do not end up with people on workfare.

    I’d vote for him.

    1. David Ellis says:

      Dr Findlay will undoubtedly be seeking to end the principle of health services being provided free at the point of need and will introduce means testing as part of his assault on universal benefits. And guess what? The NHS will still exist as a government quango funnelling public money to private health service providers.

      1. Robert says:

        Seems he is, I email his office to ask them about his views and he is basically following Lamont by saying people should pay for prescriptions , sadly for labour they have a party in Scotland who disagrees .

        Murphy I suspect will have a walk over as labour mimic the Tories with Findlay following Blair’s approach. new labour is alive and well in Scotland.

        1. John Reid says:

          Not sure if murphy really wants it, Findlays views seem impressive.

  5. Robert says:

    He dismissed a report that he wanted to review universal benefits as “complete rubbish” and said he was in favour of universalism and the key issue was how to pay for those benefits – a hint he wants higher taxes on the well-off.

    Although his main pitch was to the left of the party, Findlay also suggested he could win back Labour supporters who became disaffected during the independence referendum campaign, and attract new members.

    As part of the event, local pensioner Jimmy Gordon said he had been a lifelong Labour voter, but voted Yes in the referendum as he couldn’t see another UK government helping the working class.

    “Then, like a light at the end of the tunnel, I heard that Neil Findlay was standing for the leader of the Scottish Labour Party,” he said.

    “He represents the kind of government I want to have looking after my interests and the interests of the ordinary people of Scotland.”

    In an emotional address, Elaine Holmes, 50, from Murphy’s East Renfrewshire constituency, spoke of how Findlay, as Labour health spokesman, had fought for justice for her and other women who had been harmed by medical implants.

    After not being interested in politics, she said she was joining Labour after seeing Findlay’s “honesty and integrity” at first hand.

    It’s hard to know whom to believe at the moment because until these people have policies we are all just guessing.

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