The annual conference of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has been taking place in Aviemore this week and saw speeches from both Jeremy Corbyn and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.
The Labour Party leader was quick to rule out any party alliances, preferring to celebrate the long standing ties between his party and the unions before putting forward measures to abolish the Trade Union Act, crackdown on corporate tax avoidance and introduce a £10-an-hour minimum wage.
A confident Nicola Sturgeon took to the stage and opened with an attack on Theresa May, questioning her motives for calling the general election on 8th June 2017. A statement entirely justified given the PM’s double contradiction regarding her previous stance on an election date and the vacuous statement that “politics is not a game”.
She then went on to question the integrity of the Tories in light of the current, alleged expenses fraud scandal. Referring to the Crown Prosecution Service who are considering criminal charges against at least 30 Conservative Party members, including some sitting MP’s
The SNP leader then put forward the question – “what kind of country do we want be? ” Following this up with a stark, desolate reminder that hardliners are currently in charge of the Conservative Party.
Evident by the fact that far-right UKIP are all but a novelty fringe group with their core support returning to a more familiar stomping ground – “something that should alarm all of us”.
After a rallying call that we should all stand up against the “right ward drift” the Tories are determined to implement, Ms Sturgeon then went on to deliver the perhaps the most imperative message of her speech.
“There has always been a cost to voting Tory, but the price at this election has never been higher. And it will be those that are least able to pay that price who will bear the biggest burden”
Citing research that declared the biggest gap in inequality since Margaret Thatcher, she talked of a “double hit” on both families and communities inevitably making Scotland a poorer country.
“The truth is the Tories are starting to think they can do anything to Scotland and get away with it,” before going on to show distain for the bedroom tax, two child tax credit cap and the “shameful” rape clause – a policy not only supported by Scottish Conservatives, but woeful attempts at justification have since be made in Holyrood.
When dealing with Scotland’s relationship with Europe she talked of its immense importance and offered a more positive answer to her earlier question regarding the kind of Scotland she envisages.
Pointing out the Conservatives version of Brexit means low wages and low regulation, which in turn is bad for exports and inwards investment. As well as the fact EU regulation sets standards with regards to paid leave, working hours and maternity pay.
Something that would be a catastrophe for Scotland’s communities if ex-Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson was able to realise his prophecy and “finish the job that Margaret Thatcher started“.
Like Jeremy Corbyn, Scotland’s First Minister also said the SNP would also repeal the UK Trade Union Act and told delegates the Scottish Government would work with unions, meeting the challenges Scotland faces together.
Realising the success of a strong Scottish economy comes from tackling inequality and promoting fairer work practices, Sturgeon announced an increase in additional funding to the Trade Union Fair Work and Modernisation Fund as well as the creation of a new Workplace Equality Fund.
The intention here is to provide £500,000 to groups that help people affected by difficulties in the workplace with regards to race and disability.
The conference continues with a speech from respected film director and campaigner Ken Loach, who’s recent film, I, Daniel Blake, was a hard hitting expose of the effects of unjust Tory policy.