Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for a “united” approach across Britain to tackling the coronavirus pandemic, as he pledged to “fight, fight and fight again” to protect Scotland’s place in the UK.
He called on Scottish Government ministers to get behind a UK-wide Alliance for Full Employment to secure jobs and social justice in an address to the Labour Connected conference yesterday.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford backs the campaign, along with all of England’s Labour mayors, which calls on the UK Government to “urgently rewrite” the UK recovery plan to extend furlough - part time or full time - where it is needed. It also wants work provided to 1.25million under 25s, infrastructure projects progressed and a green new deal.
Brown said cross border co-operation is favoured by the Scottish people and that the “biggest voting bloc” in Scotland is not the 45 per cent who backed independence in 2014 but the 75 per cent of people who say they want to see Scotland work together with the rest of the UK.
“I speak to you as a proud, patriotic Scot who sees the future not as Scots versus English, or Scots versus Welsh, not as us versus them but as We the People – all nations and communities moving forward in solidarity together,” Mr Brown said in his first Labour conference speech for a decade.
“You can’t solve a pandemic with perpetual conflict, you can’t solve climate change with perpetual conflict, you can’t solve poverty with perpetual conflict but only through co-operation and solidarity.
“Our enemy is not England - our enemy is poverty, deprivation, homelessness and squalor. The freedom the people of Scotland seek is not from the UK but from injustice and inequality.”
Calls for emergency action to deal with the post-31 October job crisis have also been supported by business organisations including the CBI, which has called for a replacement to the furlough scheme and from trade unions across the UK.
“Our vision of a united Britain is built not upon the shifting sands of warring nationalisms but on the unbreakable rock of solidarity and a willingness to share,” he added.