THERE is no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy has focused public attention on the UK Labour leadership contest. This has partly been because of the directness of his appeal and his refusal to simply position Labour in relation to other parties, qualities and an integrity that I hope have come across in my own campaign. Unfortunately, part of the interest has been generated by overheated comments that have flown back and forth between supporters and opponents, language that has left me disappointed and exasperated.

I have defended Jeremy but not sought to meet him, nor any of the other candidates, not out of rudeness but because I intend to lead an autonomous Labour party here in Scotland; I want to remain a part of the UK Labour party but it is entirely up to members here in Scotland to choose our new leader and our future direction.

The Scottish Leadership contest remains wide open. My canvass returns are showing that right up to these last few days of voting, more than half of members remain undecided.

What the canvass also shows is that members warm to my message – that the Labour Party needs to start reminding people what we stand for and to stop being defined by what we are against. I want to tell you how we will make your life better, the homes we will build, the jobs we will help you get, the chances to learn or retrain or improve yourself that we will support.

As the leadership contest has progressed over the summer I have tried to illustrate the kinds of party I would lead with specific policies, so for example I want to build homes, tens of thousands of them. So many people are trapped in a private let with extortionate rents, or stuck living with their parents, or desperate to get a house but can’t afford it. Yet here is a decision that is entirely devolved to the Scottish Parliament that will generate jobs, apprentices, grow the economy and will help fulfil people’s ambitions and dreams.

To achieve this objective, I will work with any and all progressive politicians no matter which party they are in, I will work with civic Scotland, with small businesses, with the unions, with the voluntary sector in standing up for Scotland. I don’t want to spend another five years just shouting about the Conservatives’ austerity measures, I want to see us develop a different economic policy. I don’t want just to complain about the powers we don’t have, I want to use the powers we already have here in the Scottish Parliament to make a difference.

The fact that after eight years in power, people in Scotland seem to be angrier or feel more let down by the Labour Party than by the current Scottish Government is our own fault. We need to inspire people with our vision for Scotland, not sound bitter or resentful at losing power, but through our words and our deeds letting people know we’re on their side.

An economy that works for the people of Scotland: schools and colleges that give you a chance to get on; a government that tries to tackle prejudice and inequality. Is there really such a difference between my ambitions for this country, Labour’s aims and values, and those expressed by fellow Scots now voting SNP?

I believe devolution is the answer, not centralised authority in Edinburgh but real control over your own lives. As Labour leader I will offer hope.

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