Gordon Brown: Scots politics should press reset

Gordon Brown will argue today that 'the vow' delivered powers worth billions to Scotland. Picture: Scott Louden

Gordon Brown will argue today that 'the vow' delivered powers worth billions to Scotland. Picture: Scott Louden

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GORDON Brown will today say that it is time for Scottish politicians to move beyond constitutional wrangling and start improving the lives of the people.

In his first speech since the Smith Commission published its “more powers” blueprint, Mr Brown will say now is the time to “hit the reset button” of politics north of the Border.

The former Labour prime minister will urge his party to adopt general election manifesto commitments which concentrate on ending youth unemployment, improving the NHS and tackling poverty.

He will also mount a staunch defence of the Smith Commission against SNP claims that its proposals fall short of the more powers “vow” made at the end of the referendum campaign.

Despite signing up to the Smith Commission, the SNP complained it did not contain enough job-creating powers.

As the architect of the “vow”, which was signed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, Mr Brown will point out that Scotland will end up with one of the world’s most powerful devolved parliaments.

Mr Brown will call on the SNP to stop stirring up “gripes” and “grievances” against London and make a fresh start when he addresses the annual meeting of Labour councillors in Glasgow.

At the end of a week that saw plans published to give Holyrood a £20 billion tax base plus £2.5bn worth of welfare powers, Mr Brown will say that the key test of Scottish politics is no longer how many powers the Scottish Parliament has but how we improve the lives of Scottish people.

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He will suggest five manifesto commitments – including ones on jobs, the NHS, fairness and pensions – ​to deliver a better, fairer, greener and more prosperous Scotland.

According to Mr Brown, the most important question facing voters in the UK and Scottish elections in 2015 and 2016 will be whether Scottish families will be better off with a Scottish Parliament which shares with the UK or one that stops pooling resources.

Mr Brown will say: “It is time to move beyond two years of constant talk of constitutional change to a new focus in the next two years on the social and economic change that Scottish people have said they want.

“I am pressing the reset button because it is time to move beyond the old issue of bigger powers for the Scottish Parliament, as we now have more powers than at any time, to the issue that really concerns Scotland – better lives for the Scottish people.​

Mr Brown will propose that Scottish Labour’s general election manifesto for 2015 should show how the combined resources of the Scottish Parliament and the system of sharing across the UK can achieve five big improvements that the SNP couldn’t match.

His five point plan will aim to end youth unemployment; expand the 1.4 million-plus Scottish jobs linked to global trade and make them more secure more skilled and better paid; radically improve the NHS with more nurses, doctors and better cancer care and elderly social care; improve pensions; and mount a radical attack on poverty and inequality.

His attempt to draw a line under rows about Holyrood powers comes after Nicola Sturgeon claimed that Lord Smith was not radical enough.

The First Minister said she was “disappointed” by the more powers package, despite the SNP signing off Lord Smith of Kelvin’s document with the other main political parties.

Ms Sturgeon said the Smith Commission had failed to deliver the pre-referendum “vow” and warned that if the Westminster parties carried on “the way they were going, it won’t be me forcing the re-running of the referendum, it will be them”.

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