Independence: Labour vote pitch ‘cynical’, says Darling

Alistair Darling predicts austerity plus. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Alistair Darling predicts austerity plus. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Share this article
Have your say

Attempts to persuade traditional Labour supporters to vote Yes in the independence referendum have been described as “cynical” by Alistair Darling.

The leader of the Better Together campaign said independence would lead to “austerity plus for decades to come”.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged Labour voters to back independence in order to “reclaim their politics and their party”.

Speaking last month, she renewed a plea made previously at the SNP conference in April, and said many Labour supporters were already planning to vote Yes to independence.

In a speech to campaign supporters in Coatbridge today, Mr Darling targeted Alex Salmond - who he will face in a second head-to-head TV debate later this month - and said he had no record of redistributing wealth in government.

Get the latest referendum news, opinion and analysis from across Scotland and beyond on our new Scottish Independence website

“What Alex Salmond is asking Scotland to vote for is austerity plus for decades to come,” the Labour MP and former chancellor said.

“That is what makes his pitch to Labour voters that there would be fewer cuts and more wealth redistribution in a separate Scotland so cynical.

“There isn’t much in his actual record to support his claim to want redistribution. In seven years as First Minister there has been not one policy which redistributes wealth from rich to poor - indeed the opposite is true.”

Mr Darling said the debate over the currency of an independent Scotland would lead to cuts under independence.

The Scottish Government favours a formal currency union with the rest of the UK which would allow an independent Scotland to continue to use the Bank of England as its central bank.

The UK Government and the main Westminster parties have already ruled out that option.

Mr Darling said: “The certainty is that the currency chaos he would inflict would lead to more cuts and greater poverty.

“Let’s be clear - currency chaos hits the poor harder than anyone.

“The cuts would have to be across the board - from schools to hospitals, from pensions to welfare payments to some of our most vulnerable fellow citizens.

“My starting point is that I want Scotland to be fairer, more prosperous and have greater opportunities. And from that starting point I have come to the conclusion that we are more likely to have the strength to become fairer, more prosperous and have greater opportunities by working with our neighbours in the United Kingdom.”