The Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds MP, visited the Eric Liddell Centre this morning to hear a little about what they do, and how they have been affected during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She was accompanied by Richard Leonard MSP, Scottish Labour Leader, Daniel Johnson MSP for Edinburgh Southern and Cllr Cammy Day the Depute Council Leader.

Richard Leonard, Anneliese Dodds, Daniel Johnson and Cammy Day. Photo: Martin P. McAdam

We had a brief interview with her before her visit which established that she is keen to support Scottish Labour moving towards the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Elections, but equally she wants the UK Government to deal with the here and now, particularly with regard to jobs and sick pay.

She said: “Well, I think so many people are in a very difficult situation right now. Unfortunately, we’re obviously seeing unemployment rising quite quickly. And Scotland has a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the UK. So we’re saying that the government and Westminster needs to change course, it shouldn’t be withdrawing support at the same rate right across every sector of the economy.

“For example, the cultural sector here in Edinburgh, we’re really hoping that it will bounce back, you know, potentially next year or the following year. But they need that capacity to be retained somehow.

“We’re currently in a situation where even the Westminster Health Secretary himself admits that Statutory Sick Pay is not enough to live on. He’s admitted that but he hasn’t done anything about it.

“There’s of course many people who aren’t covered by Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as well, because they have different employment arrangements. Now they’ve belatedly agreed in Westminster that they will have some kind of scheme for those who aren’t covered by SSP. So, it seems like seven out of eight workers will be covered by that, we need people to be able to do the right thing. So that if they have to self isolate, they can do it quickly, and they can do it without falling into debt. So we want to be actually going out there finding out what the problems are with SSP and fixing them as quickly as possible so that everyone can self isolate who needs to.”

With regard to Scotland and Scottish Labour, she feels she has a bit of inside knowledge from speaking with friends and family who live here.

She continued: “I’m very, very keen that in particular, we deal with that looming unemployment crisis that we’ve got live in Scotland. I’m quite worried as well about the situation for small businesses, in particular which seem to have lower confidence in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.

“Obviously, I want Scottish Labour to be there and be that strong voice for those who are worried about their future.

” I think we’ve got some fantastic councillors, MSPs, and of course, one MP as well Ian Murray. I really want to see, obviously Scottish Labour going from strength to strength, and I’m very personally committed to that I would say given my background from Scotland the labour did lose the last general election, we have to accept that Brexit is happening. But there’s a big, big choice about what kind of a situation we have at the end of the year.

“And the Westminster government has promised that it was going to deliver a deal that isn’t going to be damaging to jobs. So we’re trying to hold their feet on the fire around that because they need to show that they’re serious about getting that deal.”