THE leader of Scotland’s biggest union put class politics in the centre of the debate over Holyrood powers yesterday at a packed Morning Star conference in Glasgow.
Unison Scotland convener Lilian Macer said: “The outcome of the independence vote was about change — whether you were in the No or the Yes camp.
“People have demonstrated that they value public services, they don’t want more cuts, they reject privatisation and they want a fairer and more equal society.”
And she made an impassioned call for unity on the left, saying both sides must work together to empower Scotland’s Parliament in the fight against austerity.
“The real question now is how we make sure new or existing powers are used to create decent job, tackle low pay, end poverty — and deliver for working class people.
“We cannot allow any division from the referendum to deflect from that higher mission.”
Labour shadow cabinet minister Neil Findlay said it was time to “move beyond some of the entrenched positions of the last few years around the referendum.”
Mr Findlay said the big challenge is how to bring the left together as a campaigning movement.
“Talk of creating yet more parties on the already crowded left, and especially talk of creating new trade unions by some, are extremely misplaced.”
He called on those who voted “yes from a left perspective to use their influence over the Scottish government and tell them it’s time to deliver on a social justice agenda.”
Edinburgh Labour councillor Gordon Munro said the “groundswell of opinion and activity in the referendum came from the grassroots and the shop floor”
and left needed to recognise it.
“We need to make the case for progressive taxation, that seems to have got lost a bit since the only redistributive tax measure in the referendum debate was lowering corporation tax below whatever George Osborne would do.”
SNP Trade Union Group secretary Chris Stephens said there were “opportunities” arising from the referendum despite the disappointment for those who had delivered the large Yes vote.
“Winning powers over employment rights, health and safety, welfare and broadcasting would be positive developments in Scotland’s story.”