Scotland politics

Scottish Labour conference: Murphy pledges to help teenagers not at university

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Media captionJim Murphy says Scottish Labour will create a "future fund" of £1,600 for teenagers not in education

Teenagers who do not go to university would receive £1,600 to spend on what they "need to get on in life", Scotland's Labour leader has pledged.

Jim Murphy told his party conference that he was keen to help those young Scots "destined to enter the world of work straight from school".

He also said his party would build more houses and double the number of classroom assistants.

The Edinburgh conference was the final one before the election on 7 May.

Mr Murphy explained that if there was a Labour government at Westminster after May it would make changes to tax relief on pensions which would result in an extra £200m for Scotland.

He said he wanted some of that additional spending to go on a "future fund" for 18 and 19-year-olds not at university, college or in a modern apprenticeship.

Mr Murphy believes that £1,600 per young person could be used on:

  • training
  • setting up a business
  • driving lessons
  • or buying work tools.

He told his party's conference: "We have always said that the opportunities enjoyed by those who get to university shouldn't come at the expense of those who don't.

"In higher education in Scotland a young person gets an average of £1,600 spent on their fees.

"But what of those thousands who don't go to university, or who don't gain similar investment from the nation through college or an apprenticeship.

"They shouldn't get left behind."

Mr Murphy added that in the "next few days" his party would set out more plans about supporting young Scots.

'Stop Cameron'

The speech to conference contained a warning message over voting SNP.

Mr Murphy told activists there: "In this forthcoming election there's only one organisation that can save David Cameron in Scotland. That's the SNP.

"The fact is that any seat that the SNP take from the Labour Party is an enormous step towards David Cameron clinging on to power in Downing Street in May."

The Scottish leader, who was elected to the post three months ago, also attacked the Conservatives.

He said: "If we don't stand up to Tory austerity no-one else will.

"If Scotland doesn't help prevent Cameron from getting into Downing Street, think of what it means for those families who are struggling to get by on foodbanks."

Image copyright EPA


By Brian Taylor, BBC political editor

The Murphy tone was deliberately anecdotal: his childhood, his upbringing in Apartheid South Africa, his return to Scotland. His objective was to relate that to fundamental values of social justice.

And the wider aim? To suggest that he is entirely at ease with Scottish values, contrary to the arguments advanced by his critics - including some within the Labour Party and the union movement.

More generally, it was a values-based speech. His announcements - on education support - were aimed at aiding those from the most disadvantaged sectors of society. Suggesting, in short, that social justice can be achieved by his party within Scotland but also across the wider UK.

That same duality was evident in the change in the party's constitution, the key element of which was endorsed in a card vote by 69% to 31%.

Labour is now committed to "work for the patriotic interest of the people of Scotland." Some in the Left argued against that change, noting that their banner was the Red Flag, not the Saltire; that patriotism had historically been used to quell working class ambitions by an appeal to national unity, particularly during wartime.

Read more from Brian.....

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