SCOTTISH Labour’s top official has predicted the party will make gains across the country in May, telling activists: “Bring on the elections!”
General Secretary James Kelly said he personally “can’t wait” for the contest, as it would would take place against a background of SNP budget cuts and policy mistakes.
“We’ll march forward to Labour victories in communities throughout Scotland,” he said.
He cited the new power to let councils tax workplace parking spaces as an example of the SNP-Green joint Government treating people “with contempt”.
The former Glasgow MSP, who lost his own place at Holyrood last year, was addressing delegates at the start of the Scottish Labour conference in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Labour were the biggest losers at the last local elections in 2017, losing a third of their councillors and three councils, including Glasgow for the first time in 40 years.
After attacking the SNP record on health, Mr Kelly said their “latest wheeze” was the carpark tax, a “scandalous attack on working people, asking them to pay to start their working day”.
He said: “This has all the hallmarks of an administration that are detached, out of touch and treating people with contempt.
“So from that point of view I can’t wait for the council elections, held against a background of a Holyrood administration slashing hundreds of millions of pounds each year from council budgets. Bring on the elections!
“Come the end of the conference we’ll have a positive vision for Scottish Labour to share.
“We’ll look forward to these council elections, and our candidates and our activists will take the message onto the doorsteps and into the street, and I’m confident it will be well received.
“And in these elections we’ll march forward to Labour victories in communities throughout Scotland.”
Councillor Malcolm Cunning, who leads the Labour opposition group in SNP-run Glasgow, said the city could be “the crucible of Scottish Labour’s revival”.
He said: “We all know the damage that 15 years of SNP failure in Scotland has done. But in Glasgow we can see the full impact of their incompetence, and thei r lack of ambitioin.
“This world class city has been failked by an an out-of-touch and incompetent administration.
“Our streets are strewn with rubbish, To Let boards are creeping up Sauchiehall Street like gangrene up a wounded limb, and workers in this city have once again just completed a ballot to take strike action in order to get the pay and conditions they deserve.
“Our city cannot afford another term of SNP mismanagement. Our city cannot afford to be run into the ground. Our city cannot afford closed libraries, more cuts to cleansing budgets, and more SNP failure.”
He said the Glasgow Tories had also taken to “posing” in working class communities such as Calton and Castlemilk “as if they were somehow tribunes of the masses”.
Instead “they are still the party of division and privilege”, he said. “They are the party of Boris Johnson. They are the party funded by oligarchs at odds with all that Glasgow holds dear.
“There is an alternative. We, the rejuvenated and revitalised Labour party are that alternative. This conference marks a moment where we as a movement turn to face the future and rediscover our self confidence. The coming local elections will give us the chance to go to the people of our country, hear their hopes, their concerns and their aspirations.
“Glasgow can be the crucible of Scottish Labour’s revival. We can start building the alternative to the SNP and the Tories right here in the heart of this city. We together can turn the page and begin that journey back to power this May.
“Make no mistake, Scottish Labour is back on the pitch and ready to build a bright future, a better future for everyone in this country.”