Claire Baker MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs – Speech to Conference 2019
08 March 2019
Claire Baker MSP
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs
Speech to Conference
Our economy is not just about the pace of growth. Having a healthy, responsible, open economy, one which values its workers, which operates ethically, which respects our environment, which has a fair taxation system – valuing people and society at the heart of its business – that is what a good economy is.
Workers’ rights have been hard fought and won. The Labour party and the trade union movement have worked hand in hand for over a century. We have made progress in raising incomes, in providing maternity and paternity benefits and in regulating for safe workplaces. But Labour will not be satisfied when there are still exploitative businesses in this country.
The reform of culpable homicide is overdue. My Member’s Bill will provide justice for families whose loved one did not come home after work. For too many years, big companies have got away with not valuing health and safety rules and then haven’t been held fully accountable for their role in workplace deaths. Families against Corporate Killing have been campaigning for years to see a change in the law and it is now time for the Scottish Parliament to take action.
As Scottish Labour’s spokesperson for Culture and Tourism, I know that Labour values are crucial to an inclusive society. We must not accept inequality or lack of opportunity. We know that if you live in a deprived area, have few qualifications, are elderly or live with a long term health condition, you are least likely to be able to take advantage of Scotland’s cultural opportunities. We need to see a more equitable engagement in culture but this is made more and more difficult by savage cuts to our local authorities.
And Conference, I’ve been working with Unite’s Fairer Hospitality Campaign to improve conditions for people working in the tourism sector. An area of growth for Scotland’s economy, we must make sure this is not built on exploitative employment.
I know the huge contribution that Culture and Tourism makes to Scotland. Our economy has changed dramatically in recent years, and the possibilities facing today’s generation is remarkably different from previous. Scotland’s rich and varied culture is an area of growth and opportunity. We only have to look behind this building at the magnificent V&A Dundee for an example of how culture can be a driver for economic change and regeneration.
Scotland is seeing a growth in film production and we must be supporting young people to take up these opportunities. I recently visited Screen Education Edinburgh, who focus on working with disadvantaged communities and are a centre of excellence. They have to put talented young people through a Northern Irish school level qualification because there is no equivalent in Scotland. Scottish Labour will therefore work to introduce a filmmaking qualification in Scotland’s schools for SCQF levels 4, 5 and Higher, with the aim of supporting the next generation into this exciting and expanding industry.
Labour has always been visionary in Government. It’s over 55 years since Harold Wilson’s speech to a Labour conference on ‘the white heat of technology’. Labour understood the changing nature of industry, and we must now recognise the changing economy we inherit. In Government, Wilson understood that rapid change brings challenges for the workforce. It is 50 years since the creation of the Open University. Designed by Harold Wilson, it was delivered by Jennie Lee. It is a University of the Air, opening up education for all, extending opportunity to adult learners, and cementing the idea of lifelong learning and second chances. This is a time to celebrate that achievement and to look to the future for a new generation.