Gordon Brown: ‘Nationalist myth about social justice destroyed by report’

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
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Gordon Brown yesterday claimed the SNP’s independence blueprint had abandoned social justice and had neglected pensions, childcare, the NHS, education and progressive taxation

The former Prime Minister stepped up his criticism of Andrew Wilson’s Growth Commission when he addressed the Scottish Fabians Future of Scotland conference in Edinburgh.

Brown said the economic and political path charted by the 354-page document left a gaping hole for Labour to exploit when it came to social justice.

According to Brown, the independence model set out by the Commission would see Scotland run up just under £100 billion of extra Scottish debt.

He said billions would be paid out on servicing the debt rather than being spent on the NHS, the elderly and schools.

In his speech, Brown said Labour could succeed in Scotland by rejecting “no change Conservatism” and “independence no matter the cost nationalism”.

Brown said the SNP used to say that independence would see a rise in pensions, millions on childcare, security for the NHS, more affordable housing, full employment and well-funded public services. “For 50 years they have led Scotland along this route. Independence was floated first on whisky revenues, then oil revenues – Alex Salmond’s White Paper forecast global oil prices would stick at about $120 a barrel – and then on less concrete promises that independence would magic us up higher productivity, higher population and higher participation in the workforce, which would create a post-independence utopia.

“But the arithmetic of the Wilson Commission report destroys forever the nationalist myth that the SNP’s priority is social justice.”

He said there was “nothing” in the report about pensions, childcare, funding the NHS or education.

A SNP spokesman said: “This is another tired and absurd intervention from Gordon Brown, who bears personal responsibility for ushering in a decade of austerity in the UK.

“While the SNP has consistently opposed cuts, and the Growth Commission explicitly rejects austerity, Labour has worked hand-in-hand with the Tories to slash financial support for millions of families, and cut the funding that supports Scotland’s public services.

“It speaks volumes that Labour should decide to attack the SNP rather than the Tories, whose power grab threatens devolution and whose shambolic Brexit plans are far and away the biggest threat to Scotland’s public services, jobs and economic wellbeing.”

Read more: Gordon Brown: Independent Scotland brings ‘austerity until doomsday’