LABOUR have “opened up a space” for other parties to pitch to workers because they don’t have any policies, the Scottish Socialist Party’s by-election candidate has said.

Bill Bonnar, standing for the party in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said Labour have made it “quite easy” for others to put forward left-wing policies because they are so similar to the Tories.

Speaking to The National, Bonnar said the SSP had had a “good campaign” ahead of the ballot on Thursday, and said activists had been out speaking to voters since June.

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The 67-year-old was unimpressed by Labour’s message, but also said he had spoken to many SNP supporters who wanted to know the party’s position on achieving independence during the long campaign.

Asked how the party is making its pitch to workers amid numerous Labour U-turns during the campaign, Bonnar said: “I think a space has opened up to do that. In many ways, the Labour Party makes it quite easy to do that, because they’re not really fighting on any policies, basically.

“Their central message is vote for us because we’re not the SNP or vote for us in England because we’re not the Tories, there’s no positive case.

“It’s almost like they’re trying to win it by default and not put forward any policies.”

The National: Scottish Labour candidate Michael Shanks

Bonnar said the party were speaking to voters about Labour’s main pitch, which he describes as implementing Tory policies but saying, “We'll do it better because they've made a mess of things”.

“I think when you say that to people, they kind of get that and when you go into some of the detail of it, this idea of vote for us because we're not the Tories doesn't go down well,” he said.

“What we're finding is although Labour are probably the favorite to win this seat, there's no enthusiasm behind Labour.

“And what we are finding in particular from our message, is there's an awful lot of Labour supporters coming up to us in stalls and in the street, identifying with our policies and really critical of the Labour Party.”

Bonnar also described Labour's candidate Michael Shanks as having "weak" contributions at a number of hustings events. 

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If he wins the contest to become Scotland’s next MP, Bonnar has vowed to only take the average wage of a skilled worker in Scotland, around £30,000. He says that when he explains to voters that MPs make around £90,000, many are shocked, as the average salary in the area is much lower.

“We’ve campaigned to extend public ownership into things like banking, the energy industries and those bits of public transport that are still in private hands, like the buses,” he said.

“And that’s been a really popular thing, people have had a lot of disgruntlement about the private bus services.”

Bonnar argues that public transport should be treated as an essential service, such as the NHS or education, and that the party have been campaigning for a £15 an hour minimum wage and to scrap the council tax, replacing it with a service tax.

The National:

“Overall, the policies stand on their own, but they also point to a direction of travel, which is towards a very different type of society and ultimately a socialist society,” he added.

Bonnar said a number of SNP supporters have asked about how they would move independence forward while out campaigning.

“Our answer is very simple, if you want independence you need to actually go out and campaign for independence,” he said.

“You’ve got to first of all produce a vision of what independence looks like, and then go out and campaign for it. Our view has always been that independence can never be an end in itself, it has to be a means to something.”

He said that if everything is going to stay the same after independence then “why bother”, adding: “The point of independence is to transform Scotland for the better and create a different type of and better Scotland, that resonates with people.”