Ed Miliband to make passionate plea to keep the UK intact at Scottish Labour conference

 

Deputy Political Editor

Ed Miliband will invoke the memory of the late Labour leader John Smith on Friday, as he argues that the best way to guarantee social justice in Scotland is to keep the United Kingdom intact.

He will claim a vote for independence in September’s referendum would trigger a “race to the bottom” with Alex Salmond presiding over higher taxes and lower wages.

His onslaught is likely to be rejected by the Scottish Government as scaremongering and evidence of panic in the “no” camp.

It which claims backing for separation is steadily growing, pointing to a survey yesterday which put support for a “yes” vote on 47 per cent.

Mr Miliband will tell the Scottish Labour conference in Perth that two decades have passed since Mr Smith’s death.

He will say: “John Smith was a man who passionately believed in social justice in Scotland – and in the United Kingdom. 20 years on, that flame of social justice burns.

“And we can honour his legacy by winning the fight for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom.”

Mr Miliband will say he “passionately” believes Scotland should remain in the Union and promise to make the positive case for the UK staying together over the next six months.

He will tell activists: “Everyone in this Labour Party knows we’re better together.

“When we’re in need, we don’t ask whether we are Scottish, English, Welsh or Northern Irish, we look after each other. And, in the same way, we will build prosperity for the future and for every part of the United Kingdom in a race to the top by creating those good, high-paying jobs people should expect.”

He will accuse Mr Salmond, the First Minister, of failing to match Labour’s promises to restore the 50p top rate of income tax and to freeze energy bills and claim families would be worse off in a breakaway Scotland.

“Think how hard it would be to stop a race to the bottom happening if, on one island, we had a border running along the middle so we were divided in two.

“It would be two lanes in a race to the bottom with David Cameron and Alex Salmond at the starting-blocks,” Mr Miliband will tell the conference.

“The SNP talkw about social justice. But they can’t build it because they can’t be narrow nationalists and serve social justice at the same time.”

Labour has set out plans to extend devolution in the event of a No vote. It proposes giving Holyrood the power to vary tax rates by up to 15p in the pound, giving Scotland control of three quarters of the 20p basic rate of income tax.

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