GORDON Brown has said an independent Scotland would be a “more unequal country”, prompting criticism from the SNP who described his comments as “transparently false”.
With just 100 days to go until the referendum, the former prime minister said he believes voters are not getting the “full picture” about the consequences of independence.
But the SNP said a Yes vote would allow Scotland to become a “fairer, more equal country”.
Speaking during an interview broadcast on Sky News, Mr Brown said: “I have looked at the SNP policies and they claim that Scotland would be more equal, a fairer, a more socially just society, but actually, when you look at the policies, they’re so keen to appease all sorts of different people that they end up making Scotland a more unequal country.
“So, this idea that if you want social justice you have got to go for independence - look at the policies, look at the small print - and actually you’ll find that Scotland under the SNP would be a more unequal country and I certainly don’t want to see that happening.”
SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said Mr Brown’s comments contradicted the evidence of expert reports on poverty.
She said: “Gordon Brown’s claims today on inequality aren’t just transparently false - they are nothing less than an insult to people across Scotland suffering under the welfare cuts and austerity agenda imposed by Westminster.
“That Mr Brown has made this claim on the same day as Oxfam published a report showing that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world will be a particular embarrassment for the No campaign - which is already struggling to defend Westminster’s welfare cuts which could push up to 100,000 more children in Scotland into poverty.
“The fact is that - as the University of Glasgow and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have confirmed - poverty is already lower in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, thanks to the Scottish Parliament’s stewardship of policy areas such as housing.
“With the limited powers of devolution we have managed to make some progress - but with the full economic and social powers of independence we could do even more.”
Mr Brown, the Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, added: “We should not be led into this belief that somehow, the day after independence, everything is going to be wonderful when there are quite painful decisions that have to be made about the use of resources.
“I don’t believe we are getting the full picture about what the truth about the consequences of independence are.”
But Ms Fabiani said: “With the full powers guaranteed by a Yes vote, we could take the action needed to make Scotland a fairer, more equal country.
“With a No vote we would still find ourselves with Westminster’s welfare cuts and austerity agenda being imposed on us - making the UK even more unequal than it already is.
“This is the reality that Gordon Brown and the No camp have to accept - and is exactly why their claims on inequality have no credibility whatever.”
During the wide-ranging interview, Mr Brown also said he believes the UK Government has “fallen into the trap” of making the referendum debate about Scotland versus Britain.
He said: “It would be a big mistake if people were persuaded that this was an issue of Scotland versus Britain and I think the Nationalists want people to think it’s Scotland versus Britain or Scotland versus England and I think sometimes that the Government itself has fallen into this trap.
“You see, David Cameron probably thought he was doing the right thing. He said: ‘Go up to Scotland, make the case for the union.’
“And then people came up to Scotland and said: ‘Britain says no to Scotland having its share in the British currency’, or ‘Britain says your defence jobs are going to go if Scotland goes independent’, or ‘Britain says you’re going to be bankrupt’.
“It was all done for the right reasons or the right motives, but it looked like Britain versus Scotland. That’s not the issue.”