The politicians are on manoeuvres.  Commitments are being given. Promises are even being broken. It’s election year. Strap yourselves in, folks. It’s going to be bumpy.

The priority, unsurprisingly from a trade union perspective, is to kick the Tories out of power and lock them out for good whilst we undo the damage caused by 15 years of financial mismanagement and austerity.

Of course, it’s not uncontroversial to say that the next government of the UK must be a Labour government. This is a view shared by the SNP. For the record, despite the daily barrage of social media abuse directed my way about funding the Labour Party, the STUC doesn’t fund any political party. Some of our affiliates do. Some don’t. It’s entirely their prerogative.

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But as well as electing them, what is in the collective interest of everyone throughout our movement is demanding more from the Labour Party than just being marginally better than those that came before them.

That’s why Labour’s New Deal for Working People is critical. Despite the business lobby’s attempts to water down the proposals – attempts that will no doubt become more fervent as we get closer to the ballot box – Labour leadership must remain strong. We believe they will.

Banning zero hours contracts. Employment rights from day one. Repealing all anti-trade union law, including the pernicious Minimum Service Levels (Strikes) Bill. These matter deeply to our members, and they are not negotiable.

But this is of course, just the start of the journey in rebuilding the country after Conservative government rule. It is also a joint endeavour between the Westminster and Holyrood Parliaments.

As with employment law, Westminster holds a suite of reserved powers, such as monetary and fiscal policy, energy and immigration which are fundamental to future prosperity and economic equality in Scotland.

The STUC supports further devolution in a number of these areas, however, the truth is, what happens in the UK Parliament, starting on Day 1 after the next general election, matters deeply for Scotland. Current indications are that we can expect a mixed bag.

We can support UK Labour’s commitment to an energy windfall tax, despite a Tory/SNP alliance against it, though there is also a strong case for committing part of that to public investment in a Just Transition for Scotland.

This is particularly important given the watering down of Labour’s commitment to £28 billion annual investment in the green economy. We also welcome the commitment to scrap non-dom tax status to fund training for more nurses and doctors. However, this sits within an overall projection of continuing post-election austerity, and apparent rejection of the use of wealth taxes.

This is a major concern.

In Scotland, Labour may not be in government, but it has a major part to play within our Parliament in the coming years. The STUC, alongside a range of anti-poverty and other civil society organisations, has consistently pressed the SNP government to commit to tax reform to make our system fairer and more progressive and to raise the revenues we desperately need to prevent further collapse in our public services.

The Herald: Cutting taxes is not the best way to growth, says the STUCCutting taxes is not the best way to growth, says the STUC (Image: free)

Whilst they didn’t go anywhere near far enough and we pulled no punches in telling them so, the Scottish Government, if we are to give them some credit, listened to the STUC and introduced a new tax band for those earning over £75,000.

However, we need supportive voices across the Parliament to help us make the case for more far-reaching reform, including immediate action to begin the replacement of the council tax.

That’s precisely why, at last weekend’s Scottish Labour Party conference, I implored them to commit to action. Even within existing powers, and we believe there should be more, the Scottish Parliament could deliver tax reforms aimed at wealth and property, reforms which if implemented could raise £3.7 billion a year. I told the conference that whilst it might be easier, or more beneficial at the ballot box, to call for lower taxes on the one hand but more investment in public services on the other, we need to be honest with the people we represent. We cannot have Scandinavian quality public services and American levels of taxes.

Ballot box pressures lead to short-sighted decision making. A case in point being the current SNP council tax freeze being inflicted on local authorities with the services working people rely on being first on the chopping block.

It is fair to say that we have some way to go to convince Scottish Labour and other political parties of all of this. Anas Sarwar’s announcement at their conference that middle income taxes should be reduced is fine if there are alternative plans for Scottish taxes on wealth. Not so much, if it just indicates more investment being removed from health, local government, education, and our other public services.

If, and we hope it’s the not the case, an incoming Labour Government continues Tory spending plans, with inevitable impacts in Scotland, and if, in this context Labour calls for lower taxes in Scotland, it would not be credible in any shape or form to criticise the Scottish Government for failing to adequately fund public services.

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Calling for lower taxes and suggesting that this will automatically lead to greater economic growth is not our politics and is a mantra that needs to be avoided. Evidence suggests that strong public services, good education, and investment in infrastructure are prime drivers of sustainable economic growth, as are decent wages. It’s the high road, in fact the only road, to economic growth which is sustainable and increases equality and well-being. In a country where economic outcomes are still tied so closely to class, gender, race and disability no other path is an option.

Where any part of Labour – Scottish, UK or otherwise – seeks to improve the life chances and opportunities of working people then they will find a willing ally in the STUC. Labour’s commitment to worker protection and trade union freedom creates the potential for our members to play their part in building a better fairer greener future, but a tax and investment regime that rebalances power and wealth in society and invests in our people is no less important.

Roz Foyer is the General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress