RESPECT MP George Galloway has said he would like to become prime minister of an independent Scotland if his bid to convince Scots to vote No in the referendum fails.
The Scots-born MP for Bradford West, who was expelled from Tony Blair’s Labour Party in 2003, said he would prefer “a real Labour prime minister of the whole of Britain” but said he would “fancy being prime minister of Scotland” if it votes for independence on September 18.
Mr Galloway was in Edinburgh for the latest date in his “Just Saw Naw” speaking tour.
His appearance was met by rival protests by the left-wing Radical Independence group, which opposes his pro-union stance, and the right-wing Scottish Defence League, which opposes his links with religious minorities.
The two sides were held apart by police outside Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms, with Radical Independence taunting the SDL with “Nae Nazis” chants, and the SDL calling Mr Galloway “a traitor”.
Speaking ahead of his appearance, Mr Galloway said: “I would fancy being prime minister of Scotland but I would rather we had a real Labour prime minister of the whole of Britain.
“I want to avoid the break-up of the country which I think will beggar people on both sides of the border, will lead to permanent Tory rule in Westminster and thus the Bank of England which will control the Scottish economy.
“Unleashed will be a race to the bottom with England cutting taxes, regulation, public spending, and Scotland having to follow it.
“So everyone on both sides of the border will be worse off.”
Mr Galloway took to the stage to the strains of Stealers Wheel’s Stuck In The Middle With You, saying he chose the song for its chorus “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”.
“Flag wavers don’t like me very much, whether they’re Saltire flag wavers or Union Jack flag wavers,” he said.
“That’s fine. There are a small number of Union Jack wavers who are opposed to my stand on war and occupation abroad, and my identification with religious minorities that they hate.
“If they weren’t protesting against me then I think I would be doing something wrong.”
Mr Galloway said he believes in “united countries” including a united Ireland, saying he would support Northern Ireland’s exit from the UK, in contrast to his bid to prevent Scotland from leaving.
“I don’t believe in breaking countries up as I think we have too many countries in the world, not too few,” he said.
‘English are not foreigners’
George Galloway also appealed to Scots to reject independence insisting “English people are not foreigners” during a speech in Edinburgh last night.
He hit out at the leadership of the pro-Union movement, saying he could never join the Better Together campaign because of his opposition to the Conservatives.
The MP attracted protests from both radical independence campaigners and the right-wing Scottish Defence League ahead of his speech at the Assembly Rooms last night.
He said: “I’m here because I love Scotland. The argument for keeping this small island of English-speaking people together rather than separating, or partitioning, or breaking it apart is not being made well enough by the mainstream political authorities and figures.”
He rounded on the pro-independence “Cyber Nats” who have attacked him on social media.
“The venomous Cyber Nats are disfiguring this debate in Scotland – it’s the language of civil war and hatred,” he said.
The Respect MP said he had been branded a “quisling” – a term for Nazi collaborators in the Second World War, despite his long-standing opposition to fascism. A Yes vote would lead to a “permanent” Tory government south of the Border, according to Mr Galloway, who said this would effectively leave Scotland under Conservative rule as part of Alex Salmond’s plans to keep the pound.
Scotland would also be forced to keep the UK’s Clyde-based Trident nuclear weapons system for “at least a decade” after a Yes vote, Mr Galloway said, as part of the Nato international defence alliance which the SNP wants to join.
Mr Galloway said Scottish politicians can make a difference as part of the UK.
He said his finest achievement in politics was recently thwarting a war in Syria after the coalition government’s proposals were defeated in a Commons vote in which Scottish MPs had a central role.
“Seventy-one Scottish votes stopped the war in Syria,” he added.