By Kezia Dugdale
It was a privilege to be elected leader of the Scottish Labour party last week. I know I have taken on a huge job ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections next May, which is why I have a simple, straightforward message to the people of Scotland - take a fresh look at the Scottish Labour Party.
I would not be so presumptuous as to instantly ask for people’s vote. Scottish Labour asked that very question in May and whilst 700,000 people in Scotland stuck with us, the harsh reality is the majority picked somebody else.
There were many reasons for Scottish Labour’s defeat and, to be honest, it was a long time coming. However I believe there are two key reasons why so many people lost faith in Labour in Scotland.
First, a large part of Scotland simply switched off from us. It's not so much that they don't like what they hear, it's more that many Scots have simply stopped listening to us altogether.
Second, those who are willing to hear us our say they don’t know what Scottish Labour stands for anymore.
The most recent opinion polls in Scotland show the strength of support for the SNP but they also show that many Scots feel we could do so much better as a country. I believe Labour values can deliver the change those people want to see. Under my leadership nobody will be in any doubt about what the Labour Party stands for and who we stand with.
I’m part of a new generation free from the baggage of the past, comfortable with post-devolution Scotland and looking to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament for a purpose.
And this purpose is to give every single child in Scotland the best possible start in life. The life chances of a child in Scotland shouldn’t depend on the postcode or prosperity they are born into but their potential, ambition and work ethic.
Scotland's greatest natural resource does not lie off our shores, but in our classrooms, colleges and universities.
Which is why I will make education my top priority. Under my leadership a commitment to excellence in Scottish education will continue. This is how we will tackle low pay, inequality and poverty in our country - by giving our young people the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.
I want to transform this country by making sure wealth, power and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few. I am under no illusions of the size and scale of the task ahead of me but I am confident a positive vision of Labour values will lead to Scots taking a fresh look at the Scottish Labour Party.
Kezia Dugdale is leader of Scottish Labour
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