Miliband: ‘UK a year away from Labour government’

THE UK is one year away from a Labour government which will “take up the cudgel of social justice” on behalf of Scotland and the rest of the country, according to Ed Miliband.

Ed Miliband and his shadow cabinet are in Scotland today. Picture: Getty

The Leader of the Opposition said he has “real confidence” that his party will succeed in the general election next year, as he accused the SNP of trying to “pump up the idea of (another) Tory government in order to make their case”.

Mr Miliband launched an attack on the nationalists’ independence campaign during a visit to Scotland, where he will meet with his shadow cabinet team later today.

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Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, he said: “I am here not just for the referendum campaign, I am here to prepare for, in a year’s time, a Labour government across the United Kingdom.”

He said the Conservatives were not just “disliked” in Scotland, where the party only has one MP, but were also unpopular in parts of England, such as Newcastle and Manchester.

“This is a Tory Party, I believe, that had its high water mark at the last general election and it’s moving backwards,” Mr Miliband said.

“My message to the people of Scotland is I have real confidence about the prospect of a Labour government arriving in the a year’s time across the United Kingdom.

“We are just one Christmas away from a having a Labour government which will take up the cudgel of social justice on behalf of the people of Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom.”

Miliband’s visit comes after an ICM poll for The Scotsman showed the outcome of the referendum could hinge on whether Scots fear a surge in Tory support in the rest of the UK.

It suggested 41 per cent of Scots would vote Yes if they thought on the day of the referendum the Tories would win the 2015 General Election, although backing for independence dropped to 36 per cent among those polled if they expected a Labour win.

Currency deal ruled out

Mr Miliband also restated his party’s position on the prospect of a shared formal currency union in the event of independence.

Asked if such a deal - favoured by the SNP - was ruled out under any circumstances, he replied: “Correct.”

“All of the lessons from the eurozone are that, if we are going to have a currency union, we also need the kind of fiscal union that we have across the UK. That is a sensible economic choice - it is not about the politics,” he said.

Labour’s frontbench team will meet in Glasgow’s Emirates Arena as part of a two-day campaign trip to urge people to vote No to independence on September 18.

Mr Miliband, shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran and Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont will also take part in a public meeting in Motherwell later today.

The visit by the shadow cabinet comes days after former prime minister Gordon Brown gave a speech in Glasgow on behalf of Better Together, the cross-party campaign to keep Scotland in the UK.

Barnett formula

The SNP has urged Mr Miliband to use his trip to Scotland to state his support for the formula which is used to allocate government funding to different parts of the UK.

Nationalists fear changes to the Barnett formula could result in Scotland losing £4 billion from its budget, with SNP MSP Sandra White claiming such a move would have “absolutely devastating consequences for communities across Scotland already suffering under Westminster’s austerity agenda”.

She added: “In the event of a No vote, Westminster has more cuts coming down the line - and Labour’s weak Devolution Commission proposals don’t offer any real powers to prevent these cuts hitting vulnerable people in Scotland.

“Labour voters across the country want substantial new powers for the Scottish Parliament - and more and more they are coming to the conclusion that only a Yes vote can deliver the powers we need to create a more equal society.”