Scotland’s political leaders pledge to end stigma of poverty

Party leaders Patrick Harvie, Willie Rennie, Kezia Dugdale, Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson unite in their pledge to end the stigma of poverty. (Pictured by Howard Elwym-Jones)

Party leaders Patrick Harvie, Willie Rennie, Kezia Dugdale, Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson unite in their pledge to end the stigma of poverty. (Pictured by Howard Elwym-Jones)

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All five leaders of Scotland’s main political parties have signed up to a series of pledges committing to tackle the stigma of poverty.

The pledges are part of the Poverty Alliance’s Stick Your Labels campaign which seeks to change the negative attitudes that exist towards people experiencing poverty.

The first pledge commits organisations to setting out what they will do to help tackle poverty.

The second pledge is at the core of the Stick Your Labels campaign and commits the parties to not using language which may stigmatise people experiencing poverty.

Finally, the third pledge commits organisations to take meaningful action to tackle stigmatising attitudes within their own organisations.

The party leaders join over 25 organisations in Scotland who have shown their support for the campaign. These include local authorities, COSLA, third sector organisations and the Church of Scotland.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “When we speak to people experiencing poverty, they almost always raise the stigma of living on a low income, and the judgement they can face from others. It is therefore heartening to have all five party leaders in Scotland show their support for the campaign, and to commit to never using stigmatising language.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said she was happy to support the Stick Your Labels campaign.

She added: “Negative attitudes towards people in poverty must be challenged and it’s heartening to see so many organisations doing just that.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “A key part of lifting people out of poverty is the language we all use in political debate. The hundreds of thousands of children in Scotland affected by poverty aren’t responsible for their circumstances.”

Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, attacked section of the media and right wing politicians for suggesting people living in poverty only have themselves to blame, and Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said he would stand to oppose “unfair and unjust characterisations of people in poverty”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, said: “I support the Poverty Alliance campaign to end stigma against people experiencing poverty. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”