A SCOTTISH Labour grandee has declared he will vote for independence next year, insisting that the referendum is “not a time for party politics”.
Alex Mosson, who was Lord Provost of Glasgow between 1999 and 2003, said he will back a Yes vote because he believes that Westminster is “holding us back”.
He said the historic vote next September is “not about the SNP, or Labour or any other political party”. A Yes vote would help boost Scotland’s self confidence, grow the economy and make society fairer, he claimed.
YesScotland leaders last night said Mosson’s decision would bring other “converts” to independence, amid hopes that traditional Labour voters opposed to the coalition government’s policies can be persuaded to back the cause.
Mosson’s announcement, together with a similar declaration by former Labour council chief Sir Charles Gray, will sound alarm bells in the pro-UK camp, amid warnings that complacency is setting in over next year’s result.
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael declared yesterday that the race “can still be lost” for the pro-UK side, despite consistent polling showing opposition to independence. He said that, at a meeting of the UK cabinet later this week, he would be putting “the fear of God” into David Cameron not to take a victory next year for granted.
Labour last night described Mosson’s decision as “disappointing”.
Mosson, an official in the former TGWU union, became a Labour councillor in Glasgow in 1984. He was Lord Lieutenant of the city of Glasgow and remains the city’s deputy Lord Lieutenant today.His appointment as Lord Provost also created controversy after it emerged that he had a criminal record and an alcoholic past dating back to the 1960s.
However, he said at the time that he had managed to overcome his previous problems, and used his experiences to assist people in similar positions, as a councillor.
In a statement released today, he said: “We have in Scotland a huge wealth of skill, expertise and goods and we have the potential to compete and succeed on the international stage.
“But it is clear that the Westminster system is holding us back and not allowing us to fully realise that fantastic potential as a forward-looking, progressive nation.”
He added: “This is not a time for party politics – the decision we’ll be making next September is too important for that. People need to realise that this is not about the SNP, Scottish Labour or any of the other political party.”
Independence would rekindle an interest in democracy, he said. “But first we need to find our self-confidence and become a successful, more prosperous and fairer nation. I am totally convinced that only a Yes vote will get us to that point.”
He says he has not become a supporter of the SNP despite his conversion to independence.
In 1992, after revelations about his personal life emerged, the SNP claimed his appointment was a further example of “Labour cronyism” in the city.
Mosson’s announcement follows a similar conversion by the former Labour head of Strathclyde Regional Council Sir Charles Gray who also publicly voiced his support for independence.
Both are a boost to the Yes campaign, with evidence suggesting that Labour identifying voters hold the key to pushing support for independence over the 50 percent mark next September.