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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 March 2008, 10:37 GMT
Labour 'must show radical change'
Andrew Black
Political reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Wendy Alexander
Ms Alexander's vision came ahead of Scottish Labour's conference
Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander has said her party must offer radical change to regain the trust of voters.

She said it would have to reach out to win support from new areas, while confronting the appeal of the SNP.

Ms Alexander's vision was laid out in a major policy document, published just ahead of her party's conference.

She said some Holyrood powers could be increased and some could return to Westminster. The SNP said it proved Gordon Brown runs Scottish Labour.

Following the SNP's Scots election win, ousting Labour from power after eight years, Ms Alexander admitted voters lost faith in her party's ability to deliver.

The Scottish Labour leader's vision aims to prepare the ground for what could be a difficult conference for her party in Aviemore next weekend.

We have no divine right to be elected, no automatic call on the people's support, no guarantees of unwavering allegiance
Wendy Alexander
Scottish Labour leader

It also came after a criminal prosecution was ruled out against Ms Alexander because her leadership campaign received an illegal 950 donation from Jersey-based businessman Paul Green - who is not a UK voter.

In her policy vision, Ms Alexander said Scotland must take more responsibility for raising finance, such as gaining partial control over VAT - but suggested some devolved powers be handed back to Westminster.

Nobody in Scottish Labour, she said, should be under the illusion that last year's Holyrood election was a mistake to be put right at the next one.

"We have no divine right to be elected, no automatic call on the people's support, no guarantees of unwavering allegiance," she stated in the document.

"We will have to work as hard, if not harder, than we did in 1997, to secure victory at the next election.

"We will have to work in every street, every community, and in all corners of our country to command the respect of, and win back the support of, Scotland."

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The SNP said it was clear that Ms Alexander had surrendered to Gordon Brown on returning powers to the Westminster government.

They said her plans for a constitutional commission to examine devolution were in "tatters".

Nationalist MSP Keith Brown said: "For Labour in Scotland to be put in its place in this way by Labour in London is devastating for the Scottish leadership.

"What was billed as a Scottish Parliament initiative to extend self government has been hijacked by the Labour leadership at Westminster and is now firmly under their thumb."

On specific policy areas, Ms Alexander advocated more personalised service in the NHS and a renewed emphasis on basic skills in education.

Scotland, she added, could be independent, but would be damaged economically as a result, while the whole of the UK would suffer.

Ms Alexander warned party colleagues not to rely on the argument that everything the SNP did came second to independence.

Labour - which served two terms as the Holyrood government with the Liberal Democrats - had to engage seriously with the constitutional challenge thrown down by the Nationalists.

She insisted the Scottish Parliament-endorsed constitutional commission should not just look at more powers for the Scottish Parliament but which ones should move in the opposite direction, such as counter terrorism and contingency planning.

Ms Alexander stated: "The task now for Scottish Labour is to rediscover our progressive voice, to find new policies for radical change, and to match our vision for the years ahead to the modern confidence of Scots."



SEE ALSO
Scots Labour vision at-a-glance
23 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Alexander donation probe 'robust'
15 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Scottish powers to be given boost
02 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Alexander leads Scottish Labour
14 Sep 07 |  Scotland
SNP pips Labour in Holyrood vote
04 May 07 |  Scotland

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