Voting No, pooling resources with the rest of the UK and concentrating on issues like jobs and the cost of living is the best way to deliver Scottish priorities, Margaret Curran will tell the Labour Party conference tomorrow.
The independence referendum will be a hot topic in Brighton this weekend, with all the party’s big-hitters, including leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls using their keynote speeches to press the case for Scotland to stay in the UK.
Speaking ahead of the conference, which starts today, Ms Curran, the shadow Scottish secretary, warned the referendum was clouding issues which were more important to ordinary Scottish voters, such as paying their mortgage or the rent and the rising cost of living.
She said: “Families are struggling – they can’t get work and this is what really matters, which is what we will be talking about, but Alex Salmond and David Cameron aren’t.”
On Scots prioritising other issues over the referendum, she added: “I think the polling bears that out. It was Lord Ashcroft’s poll recently which said the Scottish Government has got its priorities all wrong and, you know, I think that is quite damning of Salmond. They are not prioritising things which are really worrying people.”
The Better Together campaign has been accused of failing to make a positive case for staying in the Union by its opponents.
But Ms Curran said: “Basically, the point is that we need to work across Britain, we need to pool the resources to the advantage of working people and ordinary people.”
And she said that the referendum was an opportunity for Labour to show how its values crossed the whole of the UK.
She said: “The referendum is here and it is important to people, and people do get that.
“We have got to use it to show that Labour has got more to offer for people. It is about a better future and, for me, it is about what the Union can deliver.
“The SNP are constantly talking about pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking, but what we need to get down to is what matters to people.”
She also said that the One Nation slogan launched by Mr Miliband at the conference last year sent a strong message in Scotland as well, even though the Scottish Labour Party did not use it on its website.
However, after a year of controversy in both UK and Scottish Labour over rows on devolving more power, Mr Miliband’s leadership, the relationship with the trade unions and allegations that Unite tried to fix the selection of a candidate in Falkirk, Ms Curran appealed to her colleagues for “unity” at what she described as “a critical stage” in the election cycle.
She said: “People do really expect us to be united and do what they want us to do, which is not talk about ourselves, but what is important to them.”
“I am very much of the school of thought that you are elected to represent people, and when you start to talk about yourself then you start to make political mistakes.”
On the Falkirk saga, she said: “I think what people are worried about is not about the internal process of selecting candidates and such like – they want Labour taking on the Tories, standing up for them and taking the fight both to the Tory government and the SNP. We shouldn’t get lost in process.”