Scottish Labour cannot rely on voters’ “disillusionment” with the SNP to return to power at Holyrood, the party’s leader will say.
Richard Leonard will insist there is “no inevitablity” to Labour once again forming a government north of the border – but that this can be achieved if the party “work for it”.
Labour was the main partner in a coalition administration with the Lib Dems for the first eight years after the Scottish Parliament was restored, winning Holyrood elections in 1999 and 2003.
But it lost out to the SNP in 2007 and has not been in power since, with the party now only the third largest at Holyrood behind the Scottish Tories.
More recently, the SNP has come under fire over its record on the NHS and education, with rivals accusing Nicola Sturgeon’s party of being too focused on the constitution.
Mr Leonard will tell the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee: “We cannot rely on an automatic disillusionment with the SNP to do the job for us. There is no iron law, there is no inevitability.
“But if we work for it, industrially and politically, we can achieve it. Because I tell you, we make our own history.
“We are getting back to where we always should have been, the party of communities and the party of workers.”
However, the three-day conference is taking place at a time when the leadership of Mr Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn is coming under fire.
Mr Corbyn has been criticised for failing to do enough to tackle anti-Semitism, with Mr Leonard saying on Friday that a lack of resources was delaying the investigation of complaints.
Several MPs have quit UK Labour because of the issue and the party’s stance on Brexit while Mr Leonard has been accused of attempting to censor his party’s two Scottish MEPs.
In his conference speech, the Scottish leader will set out his “progressive agenda” for workers’ rights – and also call on the Scottish Government to do more.
Mr Leonard will say: “The SNP tell us we shouldn’t talk about workers’ rights because they are reserved. But these practices are commonplace on public contracts funding by the Scottish Government.
“Which is why it is about time that we had a Scottish Government that was prepared to use its powers, including through public procurement, to drive up employment standards and working practices on these contracts to build our hospitals, to build our roads and to build our railway infrastructure.”