Gordon Brown: Silent majority to secure No victory

Gordon Brown pressed the case for 'safer change'. Picture: Getty
Gordon Brown pressed the case for 'safer change'. Picture: Getty
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THE “silent majority” of Scots will sweep the country to a ­referendum No vote because they want the “safer change” of more powers at Holyrood, ­Gordon Brown said last night.

The former prime minister warned social inequality would “last until doomsday” under the SNP’s plans for independence, with an impassioned warning that only a UK Labour Government can bring real change.

He took the lead at a Labour rally attended by UK party ­leader Ed Miliband and Scottish leader Johann Lamont in ­Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall last night, which included a musical introduction by The Voice winner Jermain Jackman who sang the aptly named I’m telling You, I’m Not Going.

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Mr Brown, who this week hinted he could run for ­election at the Scottish Parliament, ­unveiled a timetable for more powers in the event of a No vote.

It commits Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats to ­agreeing a deal by St Andrew’s Day on 30 November. The ex-prime minister insisted last night the introduction of more powers will mean “better change, faster change and safer change than that sought by the Nationalists”.

“It is change that I believe the vast majority of Scots can ­support and change that can bring Scotland together,” Mr Brown continued.

“Further devolution rather than separation offers better change.”

The way to create a more just society is by staying in the UK, he added, and electing a Labour Government in next year’s ­election which will introduce higher taxes for high earners and a rise in the minimum wage.

Mr Brown compared this with the SNP’s plans to slash ­corporation tax for big firms which would mean a £300 ­million tax cut for the country’s biggest firms.

“Is that what independence was all about – 100 years fighting for it and the biggest beneficiaries are not the pensioner or the disabled person or the children of families – but the richest.

“Inequality would last until doomsday if the SNP got ­independence.”

Mr Miliband insisted the timetable set out to deliver more powers means the choice for Scots is now “clearer than ever before”.

“Change with No or huge risks with Yes,” Mr Miliband told supporters.

“With a vote for No, change is coming with more powers on tax and welfare for a stronger Scotland.”

Ms Lamont accused the ­Nationalists of claiming to love “all things Scottish” – except any Scot who disagrees or challenges them.

She said: “We are told there is only one expert in this debate, only one person who can be trusted – Alex Salmond – and we have to risk our jobs, pensions and our NHS on his say-so.

“Well, Scotland, I believe the silent majority will stand up and be counted on Thursday.

“They reject his division and they are every bit as part of Team Scotland as anyone else and they will be proud to vote No because it is in Scotland’s interests.”

But the pro-independence Business for Scotland group said last night that Mr Brown’s ­timetable for change may be ­unconstitutional.

They point to a recent House of Lords select committee report on the constitution – 24th ­Report of Session 2010-12 – which indicates a UK-wide ­referendum may be needed ­before more powers are granted.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, of Business for Scotland, said: “This supposedly ironclad timetable does not include at any point a second referendum that allows for the people in the rest of the UK to vote on whether Scotland should be granted more powers.

“Let’s be clear: the House of Lords report states ­categorically that any further powers for Scotland should be subject to a UK-wide constitutional process, including the possibility of a UK-wide referendum.”

He added: “This means that the massive pool of MPs representing London and the south-east, who benefit most from the Union, effectively get a veto on whether or not to reform it.

“We can reasonably conclude that there can be no guarantee of more powers or any trust in the promises of the No camp when the rest of the UK get to veto any offer.

“The timetable is not ironclad; it is shrouded in uncertainty.”


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