Leonard says economic planning needed to rebuild after the pandemic

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the government must take on ‘inefficiency, waste and exploitation’

ACTIVE state intervention is needed to rebuild and reform the Scottish economy after the coronavirus pandemic, Richard Leonard said yesterday.

The Scottish Labour leader said the government should be taking a “leading role” in putting trade unions alongside business during economic planning as the country emerges from lockdown.

The call comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote in the Herald on Sunday that she would “look seriously at social and economic reform” for Scotland.

Mr Leonard told the Star: “Nicola Sturgeon is entirely right to call for a better Scotland after the pandemic, but a plan of action is needed, not just warm words.

“It is clear that, post-pandemic, we will need to rebuild and reform our economy.

“Active state intervention will be needed to support ailing companies and provide a helping hand to workers in times of trouble.

“As time wears on, it will become necessary for the government to take a leading role in restructuring our economy alongside business and trade unions.

“Economic planning is going to be essential if we are to restart and reform our economy, and to tackle inefficiency, waste and exploitation.

“We will get through this crisis. But we must ensure we get through this together and that no-one is left behind.”

In her Sunday column, Ms Sturgeon said that the virus has fundamentally changed everyday life — but has given an opportunity to shape a different kind of future.

She said: “When things come apart — when the kaleidoscope of our lives is shaken — there is an opportunity to see them put back together differently and see a new way of doing things.

“And we can start to think together, and work together, to decide the kind of Scotland we want to emerge from this crisis.

“We still all face major challenges. Challenges in navigating the uncertainties that the virus has created, as well as rebuilding our economy and public services.

“But we can go further than rebuilding, and look seriously at social and economic reform.”

Ms Sturgeon’s proposals come after it was revealed that she missed six government Cobra meetings on the coronavirus pandemic.

The First Minister was condemned for her absence, which was described as a “dereliction of duty” by Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie.

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