aerial view of city at daytime
Photo by Eilis Garvey on Unsplash

As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, we face an extraordinary task. Our focus must now be on national recovery, not on the divisions of the past.

In the Scottish Labour manifesto published today, I have set out our recovery plan for jobs, the NHS, education, our climate and our communities. In each of these areas, Scottish Labour will have a specific national mission to focus the energy of our country on the big challenges we need to solve to build a fairer and stronger Scotland.

When I was elected as Scottish Labour leader, I said that as a proud Co-operative Party member there would be a strong co-operative thread running through the Scottish Labour manifesto. Because our national recovery must be a co-operative recovery too.

In order to rebuild the economy, co-operative enterprise will be crucial. Research shows that 65% of people in Scotland feel that the economy will be fairer post Covid-19 with more co-operatives. That is why we will set up a Workers’ Ownership Fund with the aim of doubling the number of co-operatives in our economy.

A jobs recovery must also support businesses that do the right thing. I know that many co-operatives, including the Co-operative Party, are accredited by the Fair Tax Mark. This should be the way forward for Scottish businesses – not just paying their fair share, but proud to do so.

The co-operative movement has long fought for the food justice we so desperately need in Scotland. Last week I announced plans to set up a national scheme to combat holiday hunger for all school pupils. I support a Good Food Nation Bill which will enshrine the Right to Food in Scots Law, and I am committed to combatting food poverty and delivering food justice for all.

These are just some of the ways that co-operative thread runs through our politics and through our manifesto, and over the next few weeks my fellow Co-operative candidates will be setting out the detail on how we’ll make that Co-op difference together. Because it’s clear that co-operatives and co-operation have a vital role to play in our national recovery.