ALEX Rowley is calling for an increase in the basic rate of income tax by a penny and the restoration of the 50p top rate of income tax for the highest earners.

While launching Scottish Labour’s campaign for May’s council elections, the party deputy said he hoped to raise revenue for education and other public services.

He is heading the party’s bid to hold onto and gain power in town halls, but he faces a major challenge after his party slipped behind the Tories at Holyrood in 2016.

Speaking at an event in Edinburgh, the former leader of Fife Council criticised what he said was the SNP’s “centralist approach” to politics, saying this had resulted in poorer relationships between ministers and council chiefs, and “all too often a lower quality of service being delivered as a result”.

Scottish Labour also wants to scrap the council tax and replace it with a “fairer system” which he said would see 80 per cent of households pay less.

“We have the chance to give young people a better future,” he said. “Lack of educational achievement, lack of care services, lack of investment for the future is that really the price we are all willing to pay to avoid a small increase in income tax? Let us have that discussion, let us have that debate, and let us talk about the kind of society we want, the kind of public services we want, and the kind of Scotland we all want to live in.”