THE UK is one year away from a Labour government which will “take up the cudgel of social justice” on behalf of Scotland and the rest of the country, Ed Miliband said yesterday.
The Labour leader said he has “real confidence” his party will succeed in the general election next year, as he accused the SNP of trying to “pump up the idea of [another] Tory government in order to make their case”.
Mr Miliband launched an attack on the Nationalists’ campaign during a visit to Scotland, where he met his shadow cabinet team in Glasgow.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, he said: “I am here not just for the referendum campaign, I am here to prepare for, in a year’s time, a Labour government across the United Kingdom.”
He said the Conservatives were not just “disliked” in Scotland, where the party only has one MP, but were also unpopular in parts of England, such as Newcastle and Manchester.
“My message to the people of Scotland is I have real confidence about the prospect of a Labour government arriving in a year’s time across the United Kingdom,” Mr Miliband said.
“We are just one Christmas away from a having a Labour government which will take up the cudgel of social justice on behalf of the people of Scotland and the whole United Kingdom.”
Mr Miliband also restated his party’s position on the prospect of a formal currency union in the event of independence.
Asked if such a deal – favoured by the SNP – was ruled out under any circumstances, he replied: “Correct.”
“All of the lessons from the eurozone are that, if we are going to have a currency union, we also need the kind of fiscal union that we have across the UK. That is a sensible economic choice – it is not about the politics,” he said.
Labour’s front-bench team met in Glasgow’s Emirates Arena as part of a two-day campaign trip to urge people to vote No to independence on 18 September.
The SNP has urged Mr Miliband to use his trip to Scotland to state his support for the formula which is used to allocate government funding to different parts of the UK.
Nationalists fear changes to the Barnett formula could result in Scotland losing £4 billion from its budget, with SNP MSP Sandra White claiming such a move would have “absolutely devastating consequences for communities across Scotland already suffering under Westminster’s austerity agenda”.
She added: “In the event of a No vote, Westminster has more cuts coming – and Labour’s weak Devolution Commission proposals don’t offer any real powers to prevent these cuts hitting vulnerable people in Scotland.”
Last night First Minister Alex Salmond said the Labour leader had “zero credibility when he comes to Scotland to talk about social justice”.
Mr Salmond said: “He backs a No campaign which is being bankrolled by rich Tory donors and which is aimed at keeping Westminster’s undemocratic grip on Scotland.
“Labour has abandoned its principles by working hand in glove with the Tories and the Westminster establishment against Scotland taking its future into its own hands.”