Labour Set To Launch No Campaign

3 June 2014, 09:07

As the race for referendum votes heats up, Labour is launching its campaign to keep Scotland in the UK.

Scottish party leader Johann Lamont will be joined by her deputy Anas Sarwar, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Glasgow Council leader Gordon Matheson at a rally in Glasgow attended by Labour supporters and undecided voters.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Ms Lamont said: "In just over 100 days, the people of this country will come together to decide our future and we believe it is in Scotland's interests to continue working in partnership with our neighbours.

"Scotland is already a nation with a strong parliament which has power over the things that really matter to people like schools, hospitals and jobs.

"But we believe it makes sense to share other things as part of a bigger country of 60 million rather than just five, giving us the economic certainty and security we would want.

"With so many people coming to our rally to hear Labour's message on the referendum, it shows that people are interested in this debate and many share Labour's view of the sharing union.

"We will make our arguments and fight for every vote until September 18 because we believe Scotland's best future is part of the UK."

Mr Brown's appearance at the rally marks his latest intervention in the independence debate.

Speaking in the Daily Record newspaper yesterday, he warned that "Scotland would probably be more unequal under an independent SNP Government than it is now".

He also criticised the UK Government's handling of the currency row, stating: "The way the currency argument was put by the Government made the issue Scotland versus Britain."

Chancellor George Osborne ruled out the prospect of the Scottish Government's favoured option of a formal currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK - a position which was backed by Lib Dem Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander and shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

"Patriotic Scots need a better reason for supporting what I think is a positive statement and belief - that we can have a strong Scottish Parliament and still be part of the United Kingdom," Mr Brown said.

The SNP said the comments underlined the "divisions and disarray" within the No campaign.

Scottish transport and veterans minister Keith Brown accused the political parties backing the No Campaign of engaging in a "desperate bidding war", having realised the "attraction of independence".

He said he was "surprised" to hear how far the Conservatives were willing to go in terms of transferring tax-raising powers but he said no offer came close to the "gold-plated guarantee" of independence.

The SNP minister added: "The Conservatives in Scotland had previously said there would no further powers under devolution. There was a line in the sand which apparently has now been scrubbed out.

"For the Tories to have said they will give power over income tax... was a surprise they had gone as far as they did but it is no comparison to the full powers of independence."

He also accused the No Campaign of playing "fast and loose" with the figures and dismissed David Cameron's comparison of Scotland's position in relation to EU membership with that of Macedonia and Serbia as "political illiteracy".

"Scotland is part of the EU. We have all the ... body of law which the EU have, unlike Macedonia and Serbia. We don't envisage the same level of uncertainty David Cameron has described," he said.

"We want to make a claim for membership from inside the EU."

He rubbished the outgoing EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso's view that it would be "extremely difficult" for Scotland to join, adding that he had "no authority" to say that.

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