Salmond ‘self-serving and selfish’ argues Miliband

Ed Miliband will today launch a highly personal attack on Alex Salmond by accusing the Scottish First Minister of practicing the kind of divisive politics pursued by Margaret Thatcher.

Ed Miliband will today launch a highly personal attack on Alex Salmond by accusing the Scottish First Minister of practicing the kind of divisive politics pursued by Margaret Thatcher.

Declaring the SNP Leader’s agenda as being at one “self- serving and selfish”, Miliband will tell the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Inverness:

“What about Alex Salmond? While we sketch a plan for our economic future, he spends his time drawing a line through the country. It’s the same divisive politics that we’ve seen from the Conservatives, just for a different end.

“He divides between the people of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. A narrow nationalism that somehow believes we’re stronger apart than together.

“… That is so obsessed with driving us apart, that it has no focus on the issues that really shape people’s lives.

“What did he say about Lady Thatcher’s legacy? That she helped to deliver a Scottish Parliament. Well I’ve got a message for him. Margaret Thatcher didn’t make the case for a Scottish Parliament. The Labour Party and the people of Scotland did. And Margaret Thatcher didn’t deliver a Scottish Parliament – a Labour government working with the people of Scotland did.

“His is a narrow nationalism that thinks the way Scotland prospers is in a race to the bottom across the UK, cutting corporation tax rates for powerful companies while doing nothing for working people. And a narrow nationalism that says if it is in the interest of the SNP then it is OK to do cosy deals with Rupert Murdoch.

“A narrow nationalism that prays for Tory success so that he can convince people that the only way to get rid of the Tories is to get out of the UK. Praying for Tory success: have you ever heard such a self-serving, selfish, narrow-minded, blinkered, in-it-for-yourself, divide-and-rule piece of nonsense?”

However, in a sign of the mark made on the Labour Party by the Iron Lady’s tenure at Number 10, Miliband will argue that the United Kingdom now needs radical change on the scale of that imposed by Thatcher.

Whilst  speaking of the “pain” inflicted on Scotland and the UK as a whole by Thatcher’s policies, the Labour Leader will call for a “new settlement” for the country to address people’s feelings of having been let down by failed economic policies. He will tell the conference:

“Back in the 1970s, it was clear the country needed a new way of doing things – a new settlement – and so too today.”

Reflecting on Labour’s year in Scotland meanwhile, Andrew Whitaker the Scotsman’s political correspondent concludes that whilst Johann Lamont has made the party north of the border “respectable”, she never the less has a mountain to climb to claim the crown from Alex Salmond. Writing for the paper he observes:

“Johann Lamont was handed easily the most difficult job in Scottish politics when she narrowly defeated rival Ken Macintosh in the leadership election at the end of 2011.

“As the party faithful gather in Inverness this weekend, Ms Lamont can reflect on what has for the most part been a successful opening to her tenure as Labour leader.

“More often than not, Ms Lamont has had the slight edge over Alex Salmond in the weekly joust of Holyrood’s First Minister’s questions.

“She also presided over a good set of local elections for Labour, with the party emerging as the dominant force on more authorities than the SNP and holding off a nationalist challenge in Glasgow.

“Ms Lamont has also managed to land a few punches on Mr Salmond over issues such as the SNP’s perceived inability to answer key questions on an independent Scotland’s place in Europe and retention of the pound.

“And she has already established herself as a much more effective Labour opposition leader than either of her predecessors – Iain Gray and Wendy Alexander – and to a large extent has succeeded in stopping her party slide further into oblivion.

“In short, Ms Lamont has made Labour at Holyrood respectable again and less of the laughing stock than the ravaged party that emerged from heavy defeat in 2011.”

However, following Lamont’s previous calls to consider the long term viability of a number of universal benefits provided to Scots Whittaker warns:

“Ms Lamont already faces an uphill struggle to overturn the SNP’s huge Holyrood majority over Labour at the next election and it’s hard to see how pursuing a Blairite-style approach to public services will help with that task.”

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