SNP warned Scottish Labour is 'coming for your jobs'
Labour is "back and business and coming for your jobs," Jackie Baillie has warned the SNP.
During her speech to the Scottish Labour spring conference in Edinburgh, Baillie said the last 48 hours since Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to step down had been a "rollercoaster".
She went on: "I have always thought that Nicola Sturgeon was a skilful political operator, and it is clear that her instincts remain undiminished.
"She knew that the time was up for the SNP.
"She knew that her choice was leave now – or be replaced by the Scottish Labour Party.
"Conference, Downing Street is in our sights and so too is Bute House.
"So, I am putting Rishi Sunak and whoever replaces Nicola Sturgeon on notice – Labour is back in business and coming for your jobs."
At the outset of her speech, Baillie hailed the party's results in the 2021 council elections, in which it regained control of a single council, West Dunbartonshire.
The region includes parts of Baillie's own constituency and the deputy Scottish Labour leader called the result a "personal favourite".
The conference opened amidst speculation about which SNP figures will emerge to challenge for party leadership, with reports suggesting health secretary Humza Yousaf is considering a bid.
Baillie described him as "the worst minister I have ever had the misfortune of shadowing", saying delayed discharge, NHS staff vacancies and waiting lists are "all higher than under every preceding SNP health secretary".
Referring to his potential candidacy as "astonishing news", she went on: "But of course he doesn’t like it when I call him out for his failures – he complains that I’m making it personal. He’s right – this is personal. This is personal for the patients in pain who can’t get treatment; and it personal for the staff who are at breaking point.
"When even Nicola Sturgeon can tell that there is no way to spin out of this mess, you know you are in trouble."
Baillie continued: "He now aspires to be the worst first minister on record.
"The lack of self-awareness might be considered by clinicians to be delusional.
"Conference, they can have as many runners and riders as they want.
"We know the best option for our next first minister is Anas Sarwar."
Baillie also announced a plan to reduce Scotland's 14 territorial health boards from 14 to three and merge the eight special health boards to save £20m – enough for more than 700 nurses – by removing management roles and an "army of spin doctors" at each board.
She said this would "push decision-making down to the local level, empower clinicians and focus on supporting frontline staff".