Things have to change

ScotLab_Conference.jpgAlice is a student in Glasgow and a local party member.

With just 60 days to go until the election on May 7th, I attended my first ever conference in Edinburgh.

When I decided I was going to conference, I was told it was a weird and wonderful highlight on the calendar of party members. Now I know why.

Hundreds of people who gave up their Saturday to be gathered in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre - some party stalwarts (so I’m told), but lots of people who were also new to the experience just like me.

People had come from all over Scotland to be there, there were grandmothers and grandfathers who could wax lyrical about joining the Labour Party under Attlee and Wilson, and students who had only just joined the Party, there were Yes voters and No voters who sat side by side in the conference hall.

One thing united all these people together – we want change.

And we know that the Scottish Labour Party can be that change. Look around at the country we live in, where food banks are on the rise, where families can’t afford to pay the insidious bedroom tax and where you are born still determines your chances in life.

Things have to change, and we spent the day talking about our plan to be that change that we need.

Speaker after speaker talked about Labour’s pledges to raise the minimum wage, to double paternity leave, to cap energy prices and to deliver more powers for Scotland.

And Jim’s speech showed the energy he has, and the commitment that runs deep throughout our party to end the inequalities that exist in our society.

Nowhere is that more evident than in education and training in this country. So I was delighted to hear Jim’s vision for Scotland’s young people: we will increase bursaries for the poorest students in higher education by over £1,000. Our access to education should not rely on family wealth or racking up piles of debt, that’s why I believe in keeping tuition free.

And, too often, we forget about the people who don’t go to college or University. We have to recognise that formal education just isn’t the best fit for some people – but that they should not be ignored just because of that. That’s why the Future Fund was so appealing to me – that every 18 and 19 year old going into the world of work will be eligible for a £1,600 Future Fund to fund training, help set up a business or just furthering their skills.

In the words of our own Bill Butler, who spoke at Conference, “these are the policies of a radical, progressive party”.

I think I’ll be going back to Conference next year – because there’s so much work still left to do