New Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has pledged more cash to help the country’s poorest pupils and to reverse tax credit cuts for working families north of the border.
In her first conference speech since being elected to the job, Ms Dugdale turned her fire on David Cameron’s Conservatives and the SNP Government at Holyrood.
Labour in Scotland was virtually wiped out by Nicola Sturgeon’s party in May, losing all but one of the seats they held to the nationalists.
With elections to the Scottish Parliament taking place next May, Ms Dugdale pledged she would set up a Fair Start Fund – which would provide some £78 million a year to help 72,000 youngsters eligible for free school meals – if her party returns to power at Holyrood.
She also vowed to protect Scots from UK Government cuts to tax credits by using new tax and welfare powers coming to MSPs from April 2017 to ensure families north of the border do not lose out.
Care workers will get a “real living wage” she said, and youngsters leaving care who go on to university will get a grant of £6,000 a year to help them.
Ms Dugdale told party activists in Perth: “Next year’s elections will be hard, but I have no intention of making it easy for the SNP either.”
She added: “You know what? The SNP are starting to make the kind of mistakes we did when we dominated Scottish politics. They see the reasons not to act rather than the way to make change.”
She hit out at Ms Sturgeon, the SNP First Minister, and said: “If talking about a fairer Scotland was what made the difference then Nicola Sturgeon would have made Scotland the fairest country in the world by now.
“But talking about it isn’t enough.
“You need to change. To act. To do things differently.”