Jobs focus for Scottish independence campaign

BOTH sides in the independence referendum campaign will be hoping to brew up support as the debate focuses on job creation.

Tennents Caledonian Brewery in Glasgow is a campaign stop off. 
Picture: Robert Perry
Tennents Caledonian Brewery in Glasgow is a campaign stop off. Picture: Robert Perry

First Minister Alex Salmond will set out his vision of the gains of independence for the food and drink industry on a visit to Eden Mill distillery and brewery in Guardbridge, Fife.

Meanwhile, shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran and Labour MSP Iain Gray will be at Glasgow’s Tennent Caledonian Breweries to highlight jobs and opportunities they say will be available as part of the UK.

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Today is the deadline for Scots to register to vote in the referendum on September 18.

The latest YouGov poll shows support for independence has risen eight points in a month, with the No camp now six points ahead of the Yes campaign.

Excluding undecided voters, 53% plan to vote No, while 47% would back Yes.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Salmond said: “Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and our booming food and drink industry is just one of our remarkable success stories in recent years.

“More and more people are waking up to the fact that Scotland has a strong and diverse economy on which we can build a more prosperous future with control of key economic levers.

“Scotland is currently in the international spotlight like never before, but the huge publicity generated by a Yes vote - and the transition to independence - will be the opportunity of a lifetime for our food and drink sector to extend its global reach even further.”

Mr Salmond said the Scottish Government had been working with the industry on a £4.5 million food and drink export plan.

He added: “Following a Yes vote, we will sit down with industry and Food and Drink Scotland to discuss how we can supplement that plan to take full advantage of the unprecedented global publicity, creating thousands of jobs in Scotland and boosting our exports.”

Trade with UK

Ms Curran argued that young people in Scotland would benefit from more job opportunities within the UK.

She said: “Around one million jobs in Scotland rely on companies based elsewhere in the UK and many more are with companies that rely on trade with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Young people across Scotland can’t afford to have opportunities cut off.

‘’We want a strong Scotland backed up by a strong United Kingdom. Being part of the UK means that we can share our resources across the country.

‘’Scots are squeezed between two governments with the wrong priorities. Neither the Tories nor the SNP are giving our young people the chances they need to succeed.”

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Labour MP Jim Murphy is due to resume his 100 streets in 100 days tour in Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

Mr Murphy called a temporary halt to the tour last week amid claims of organised intimidation by Yes supporters.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will also be in the capital, visiting a nursery to argue that people in Scotland “have the best of both worlds” as part of the UK.

In Glasgow, Green MSP Patrick Harvie will put forward the case for Yes and Labour MSP Jackie Baillie the arguments for No before an audience of hundreds of disabled people at a referendum event organised by the Glasgow Disability Alliance.

Mr Harvie will later be joined by Natalie Bennett, leader of the Greens in England and Wales, to campaign at Edinburgh’s Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Dalmeny Street.

The capital will also play host to STV’s latest live debate on the referendum at The Assembly Rooms in George Street.

The evening broadcast will feature Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Harvie and actress Elaine C Smith for Yes and shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson and Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale for No.