Anas Sarwar: I have proposed the most radical tax plan in Holyrood’s history

With ballot papers landing in email inboxes today, we are approaching the finishing line in this contest – and starting our journey back to government.

Our country needs a strong Labour Party in power at both Westminster and Holyrood.

We have suffered a lost decade under the SNP, obsessed only with the constitution, and under a Tory government that continues with its failed austerity programme.

We simply can’t afford another lost decade.

We need to build a Scotland where no child is left behind; no family is left behind; no worker is left behind; and no community is left behind.

I’m proud to have put forward the most radical welfare policy in Holyrood’s history during this campaign: a Scottish child tax credit, paying an extra £10-a-week, per child.

That will instantly lift 50,000 children out of poverty – and help improve the educational attainment of tens of thousands of children.

As Nye Bevan said: “The language of priorities is the religion of socialism.”

Our party must heed those words and be prepared to decide our priorities today. My priority will always be the poorest families in our country.

Tax credits are one way to help families, but we must also grow our economy.

A thriving economy leads to an increase in jobs, which leads to more spending power among consumers, and a larger tax base for the government.

Yet we can’t claim to be the party of workers if we don’t face up to threat to jobs from a hard Tory Brexit.

I’m proud to be standing in this contest as the only candidate who has never, and will never, leave workers behind by voting against the Labour Party and with the Tories on Brexit.

Theresa May’s hard Brexit is set to put workers on the path towards another lost decade. There are 300,000 jobs linked to our membership of the European single market.

That’s why nobody can credibly claim they want to protect jobs and not support membership of the single market and the customs union. I am the only candidate in this contest who supports permanent British membership of the European single market and the customs union.

But fighting a hard Tory Brexit won’t simply stop the pro-austerity SNP continuing with its cuts to local communities across Scotland.

I am proud that Scottish Labour has been at the forefront of the campaign for fairer income tax, putting forward progressive plans to stop Nicola Sturgeon’s cuts.

Today, it is time for us to even bolder and more radical.

I believe in the redistribution of wealth and asking the richest in our society to pay their fair share.

That’s why I have proposed the most radical tax plan in Holyrood’s history. It would deliver a tax cut for the majority of earners in our country, ensuring those earning less than the median wage of £28,000-a-year would have more money in their pockets.

Through the introduction of a new 15p rate of income tax, it would save those on the real living wage £235-a-year.

And to ensure we can afford to stop SNP cuts to schools and hospitals, reverse Tory benefit cuts, and lift 50,000 children out of poverty, I am proposing a 50p top rate of income tax for the richest two per cent in Scotland, kicking in at £100,000-a-year.

In this contest it’s not good enough to just claim you are radical, or shout it a lot: you have to prove it. This proves it.

With the support of party members, I am determined to lead Scottish Labour back to where it belongs – in power.

Anas Sarwar is a candidate to be the next leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

More from LabourList