Edinburgh Labour launched their 2022 manifesto this morning ahead of the May council elections. This is the first Labour Party manifesto to be published in Scotland.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar joined councillors and council candidates to talk about what the manifesto sets out for Edinburgh. Mr Sarwar said: “I think there are lessons to be learned here in Edinburgh with the ethnic and gender diversity among the candidates which I hope becomes diversity among councillors. Labour has to be rooted in the future of work how people can get good jobs and the right skills in Edinburgh and help Edinburgh’s economy to grow. This seven more important in the context of the cost of living crisis.
“This election is not about Brexit or independence but it is fundamentally about you, your family and your local community. It is fundamentally about how people can get fairness living here in Edinburgh and fair opportunity in their lives – a fair crack of the whip. It is about having a safe secure warm home and how you are going to pay the bills. It is not about having to choose between eating and heating. It is about how you can get the skills you need to be able to get that job you want to fulfil your aspirations and your dreams and to give back to society as well as providing for your own family.
The Edinburgh Reporter asked Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, about his recent comments warning against formal coalitions in Scottish councils. In Edinburgh this is the end of ten years of formal coalition with the SNP. He said: “What we have right now is the SNP saying no coalition with the Tories, telling Labour to rule out a coalition with the Tories, the Tories saying there will be no coalition with the SNP. I think this is an opportunity for us to change the way we do local democracy. Let’s have decision making based on the merits of those decisions – what’s right for local communities and what’s right for cities like Edinburgh. So in that context let’s elect Labour councillors – and I hope a Labour council here in Edinburgh – that works with other political parties on individual decisions so that we get the right programme for people here in Edinburgh not based on political stitch-ups but based on what’s right for local communities. If you want a council that works for you and your family and your local community then vote for a Labour council.
“This is a manifesto full of ideas, it is credible and deliverable and will make a massive difference to this great city, one of the world-class cities of course.”
Cllr Cammy Day thanked everyone who had had a hand in the new manifesto, particularly Sheila Gilmore a former Edinburgh MP. He said: “The best part of this document is that it is Edinburgh Labour’s manifesto brought together by consultation with party members, trade unions and affiliates who are committing to reducing poverty dealing with the climate change to in-house council services to support growing businesses and getting back the economy of Edinburgh. So this is an exciting opportunity for the people of Edinburgh to come and vote for Edinburgh Labour to take control of the city and deliver the best we can.”
Margaret Graham is the candidate for the City Centre ward, hoping to take it over from Cllr Karen Doran who is standing down at the election. She spoke about tourism. the manifesto suggests that tourism should work for the residents of Edinburgh as over tourism affects their quality of life. Margaret explained that during campaigning in recent weeks it has become clear that the residents she has met have strong views on tourism in the city centre, and that the explosion of short term lets has created a number of problems, distorting the housing market here more than any other city in the UK. Events such as Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Christmas market are an ongoing issue and the extending of the tourism footprint into local neighbourhoods should be carefully managed.
Edinburgh Labour wants to establish a new tourism body for the city that includes local community representatives as well as the tourist industry and councillors.
Sarah Boyack said: “This is an excellent manifesto because it addresses the issues of people and communities that Edinburgh needs which is investment in our services and our infrastructure which have been cut by the SNP government for far too long. So this is about change and investing in our city. This sends a clear message that Edinburgh needs investment. Every Labour councillor that we get elected will stand up for this in the council chambers but also in their communities.
“This is about getting basic services back on track and campaigning for fair funding for Edinburgh for our schools, care services and affordable housing. A crucial campaign commitment is to tackle the climate emergency. We have the right team and they are out campaigning already. The SNP have had an 8% rise in their funding but have imposed a 12% cut on our households. We need to see a change.
“People are having to choose between heating and eating in the 21st century which is not acceptable.”
Mandy Watt, currently councillor in Morningside, is the party’s lead on housing. In the last administration she was Vice-Convener of Housing and Homelessness.
She said: “Edinburgh has the most expensive housing in Scotland which is frightening for anyone who wants to find a home here. The workers that we need here teachers, nurses and police officers cannot find a home that they can afford. It is a long time since the Conservatives introduced their right to buy scheme. We had 60,000 council houses in Edinburgh and as a result of the scheme we now have less than 20,000. We talk a lot about the plan to build 20,000 houses in Edinburgh but this includes every affordable home no matter who is building it. We plan to build 25,000 new council homes in the next decade and the quicker we do that the better.”
Edinburgh Labour wants to start a programme to build at least 25,000 council owned homes within 10 years, including enough accessible and larger family homes to meet need. The party calls on The Scottish Government to match fund the investment coming from tenants’ rents.
Mhairi Munro-Brian is the Labour candidate in Inverleith. She said: “The climate emergency is one of the biggest issues we face as a worldwide society. There is much more work to be done to ensure that more environmentally friendly options are available to more people especially those low income households. To achieve the target of making Edinburgh net zero by 2030 we need real and tangible action to make that happen. We must reduce our over-reliance on fossil fuels and ensure that all council buildings only use electricity from renewable sources, as well as rolling out further solar installations on council properties in partnership with the Solar Coop.”
Edinburgh Labour is determined to address the increasing problem of traffic congestion and air pollution particularly in the city centre, increase spending on active travel to 15% of the transport budget and increase funding for pavements and roads.
James Dalgleish is the candidate for Leith Walk. He spoke about young people and jobs. He said: “We see first hand other parties who prefer private profit and outsourcing for council services which makes for a poorer service at higher cost.
“Edinburgh Labour must support young people to start them off with the best opportunities both personally and professionally.”
Edinburgh Labour wants the attainment gap in education addressed as a priority as the inequality affects the opportunities for children and young people.
You can read the manifesto in full below.