Brown slams SNP’s constitutional navel-gazing

Brown urged Labour to focus on what matters most to the people of Scotland


In what could be one of his last major set piece events before retiring as an MP, the former prime minister Gordon Brown, has echoed the words of President John F Kennedy by urging Labour to focus on what matters most to the people of Scotland.

Amidst continued difficult poll ratings north of the border, Brown told Labour that it needed to ask itself a simple question – ‘not what Scotland can do for Labour, but what Labour can do for Scotland’.

Launching a scathing attack on the SNP for being happy to ‘spend their time talking about hung parliaments, post-election deals and coalitions’, Labour, he said, will spend its time ‘talking about new Scottish jobs, new Scottish businesses and new Scottish technologies, and how we can benefit from leading a global economic revolution.’

The former prime minister was speaking last night at the inaugural John Wheatley lecture in Glasgow.

Highlighting the dividing line that Labour will seek to draw in the forthcoming election, Brown concluded of the SNP:

“While their speeches focus on the minutiae of Westminster insider politics – like ‘confidence and supply deals’ – we will talk about the big issues that matter such as ending poverty, unemployment, inequality and injustice in Scotland.

“The economic, social and constitutional revolution which Scotland must lead cannot be achieved by the present UK Government nor the present Scottish Government, who have together presided over a rise in poverty and inequality.”

Amidst ongoing challenges faced in the North Sea as a result of falling oil prices, he went on to call for the establishment of a new North Sea reserve fund to provide support needed to Scotland’s oil industry. He also mooted the prospect of the government, as a last resort, taking full control of some oil fields where it could avoid some being mothballed altogether.

Brown’s speech came as SNP leader and first minister Nicola Sturgeon prepared to unveil her government’s revised economic strategy later today.

Putting equality at its heart, she is expected to highlight research undertaken recently by the OECD suggesting that GDP in the UK could have been almost £100 billion higher in 2010 had the UK economy been more equal in the previous decade. This would be equal to about £1,600 per person.

Sturgeon is expected to say:

“Our economic strategy will set out a long-term vision based on one fundamental principal.

“By becoming a fairer society, we will also become a more productive and more prosperous society.

“We want to see economic growth that is inclusive, innovative and fairly distributed.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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