Scottish independence: Miliband plea to keep Union

Labour leader Ed Miliband, left, and Ed Balls in conference ahead of the shadow chancellor's speech to delegates. Picture: PA
Labour leader Ed Miliband, left, and Ed Balls in conference ahead of the shadow chancellor's speech to delegates. Picture: PA
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LABOUR leader Ed Miliband will put keeping Scotland in the UK at the heart of his keynote speech today as he makes an emotional appeal for Scots to reject independence in the referendum next year.

Mr Miliband will introduce a Scottish Labour member, Cathy Murphy from Glasgow, whose life was saved by doctors and nurses in Liverpool at the party conference in 2011 as an example of why Scotland and the rest of the UK are better together.

The address will also make a wider appeal to the whole of the UK with the Labour leader’s vision of economic social justice “benefiting the many instead of the few”. But the Labour leader will announce that some of Scotland’s biggest employers, including those in the financial services, oil and gas, and drinks businesses will be hit by a reversal in the coalition’s plans to cut corporation tax by a penny.

The billions of extra revenue would be redistributed in England to reverse a planned increase in small business rates and give the devolved administrations extra money to spend on projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But Mr Miliband will make victory in next year’s Scottish referendum his priority and will urge party members from around the UK to get behind the Better Together campaign.

He is to say: “Let’s make sure, over the next year, we win the battle for the most important institution of all: our country.”

In one year’s time, Scotland will vote on whether to stay part of the United Kingdom. But after a week in which shadow cabinet members have tackled the SNP on the details of independence, Mr Miliband will deliberately steer away from the debate over issues such as the currency and defence and make a direct appeal to the heart.

He will say: “There are many ways to debate this issue, facts and figures, argument and counter argument. But let me just tell you one story which says it all. It’s the story of Cathy Murphy, who lives in Glasgow and works at a local supermarket.

“In 2010, she was diagnosed with a serious heart problem. She came to the Labour conference as a delegate in 2011 in Liverpool and fell seriously ill. The doctors feared the worst. They thought she would die and called her family down from Glasgow. But, somehow, they managed to stabilise her condition.”

He will go on: “Some weeks later, they undertook a 14-hour operation at the Liverpool Broadgreen Hospital to save her life. And she pulled through and eventually returned home to Glasgow. She still works at the local supermarket.”

Highlighting the emotional links that exist across the UK’s borders he will say: “She comes back to Liverpool every six months for a check-up. And you know what? The doctors and nurses don’t ask whether she lives in England or Scotland. They don’t ask whether she is Scottish or English. No.”

He will add: “They know she is: Scottish and British. Cathy is with us today, back as a conference delegate.

“I don’t want Cathy to become a foreigner. Let’s keep our United Kingdom together.”

On his vision for the economy, Mr Miliband will claim that the “vital link between the wealth of the country as a whole and your family finances has been broken”.

He will complain that too many of the new jobs being created are “just too low paid” while “too many of the gains in our economy are just scooped up by a privileged few”.

Quoting former US president Ronald Reagan, he will add: “They used to say ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. Now, the rising tide just seems to lift the yachts.”