Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has urged voters to look beyond the arguments of Scotland’s past and back her party and its plan to raise taxes to fund public services.
Ms Dugdale launched her manifesto for the Holyrood election in little more than a week’s time in Edinburgh, insisting Labour is the “only party offering an alternative to austerity”.
Economic experts at IPPR found “the difference between Labour and the SNP plans was nearly £1 billion of cuts a year by the end of the next parliament”, the manifesto states.
Labour will scrap the council tax and replace it with a new system where 80% of households pay less and heavily tax the richest 1% to pay for a Fair Start Fund worth £1,000 for every deprived child.
The party will also promote a breakfast club in every primary school to help parents back to work and give children leaving care a £6,000 college grant.
It will also ban companies engaging in tax avoidance from bidding for public contracts and open those delivering public contracts to scrutiny under freedom of information.
Labour has ruled out another independence referendum for the lifetime of the next parliament and confirmed its opposition to the renewal of Trident.
Both policies have caused difficulties for Ms Dugdale as she has indicated she will not stop her members campaigning for independence and briefly indicated she may back independence if the UK votes to leave the European Union, a comment she has since retracted.
Ms Dugdale also supports the renewal of Trident but was outvoted at the party’s conference.
She has urged voters to look beyond “the politician on the front cover” of the manifesto and look to the policies inside.
She said: “We have led the debate in Scottish politics.
“When I announced we would protect tax credits, the Scottish Parliament was forced, for the first time, to debate what we would do with our new powers.
“When I raised educational inequality, week after week, it was barely on the radar, now it is there in every party’s manifesto.
“When I announced our plan to use the new tax powers to stop the cuts, it didn’t just start a debate, it has defined this election.
“Scottish politics is moving on from the arguments of the past.
“Because, however people voted in the past, I believe most are now united in one wish: that we use the powers we have now, that we use them to deliver real change now, not to wait and wait for a distant promised land.
“Arguments about what we can’t do have to give way to a real plan for what we will do to make people’s lives better.
“We cannot afford to dwell on the arguments of the past when the challenges we face are so great, and the opportunities for change so exciting.”
The manifesto stated: “Following a vote at Scottish Labour Party conference, we will make a submission to the UK party’s national defence review opposing the renewal of Trident, subject to defence diversification agency guaranteeing the retention of all existing jobs.”
The manifesto added: “On September 18 2014 the people of Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom.
“We believe this was the right decision for Scotland. It is time for both sides to move on.
“The major new powers of the Scottish Parliament mean we can make different decisions and act in the best interests of the people of Scotland by rejecting further cuts to public services.
“We rule out another referendum on independence during the lifetime of the next parliament.”