With less than a week to go until the referendum, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Johann Lamont will give speeches tonight in Glasgow, each laying out the case for why they think people in Scotland should vote to remain part of the Union.
Brown will argue that in light of the devolution timetable he laid out earlier in the week, Labour are proposing “better change, faster change and safer change than that sought by the nationalists.”
He will explain that while the Scottish Parliament will have “more powers from tax to services” and that it will also “benefit from being part of the UK when it comes to defence and security, the currency, the pooling and sharing of our resources with our friends, neighbours and family in England, Wales and Northern Ireland”.
The crux of Brown’s argument will lie in the fact that alongside increased autonomy, remaining part of the Union under the devolution plans will mean “sharing across the 63 million people of the UK rather than just 5 million people in Scotland”. Brown will explain that, amongst other benefits, this means Labour “can guarantee UK-wide rights to a pension, assistance when unemployed, fully funded healthcare free at the point of need and minimum standards of protection at work, including a UK-wide minimum wage.”
Meanwhile, Ed Miliband will focus on the NHS – a subject area that’s set to be the centre-piece of Labour’s general election campaign. Citing a meeting with Cathy Murphy from Glasgow last year, Miliband will explain how despite what Salmond may say, the “real risk to then NHS is separation”, explaining that NHS will be “stronger if we stay together”. He will give evidence for this by saying:
“We have heard this week from 200 practitioners in the NHS who warned that with separation, patients would be put at the back of the queue for the services they need. And we have also heard from Mark Carney about the £21bn that would have to be cut from spending in an independent Scotland to pay for Alex Salmon’s lack of a currency plan. Be in no doubt what this means. Over £1 billion a year would be the NHS’s share of those cuts, the equivalent of 36,000 nurses. That is the real threat to NHS. When better, faster, safer change is coming that’s not a risk anyone who loves the NHS should take.”
Johann Lamont, leader of Scottish Labour will also put forward the case for Scotland staying part of the Union. She will argue that Salmond replaces “patriotism” with “narrow nationalism”. In reference to the Yes campaign, Lamont will argue:
“We see a movement which claims to love all things Scottish – that is except any Scot who has the audacity to disagree or challenge them. We find that the banks, the supermarkets, the NHS workers, the pensions industry, the shipyard workers, all of them are no longer to be listened to. Instead we are supposed to believe they have all been dragooned into a conspiracy to deny Scotland its liberation…Well Scotland, I believe the silent majority will stand up and be counted on Thursday. They reject his division and they are every bit as part of Team Scotland as anyone else and they will be proud to vote No on Thursday because it is in Scotland’s interests.”