Gordon Brown yesterday urged the bitter rivals of the independence referendum to consign their Yes and No stickers to “the history books” and come together in a “confident Scotland”, as he tried to use his newly respected position to reinforce the “new Union”.
The former prime minister, credited with helping the No campaign to victory with a passionate, patriotic rally to reclaim the saltire last week, gave a second speech which will help transform his battered record in Westminster. At Dalgety Bay, in his constituency of Fife, Mr Brown reassured Scots that the pledge of extra powers from Westminster would be “locked” in place. This would start as early as tomorrow, with a resolution tabled in the Commons committing Westminster parties to fresh devolution and signed by David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Mr Miliband and Mr Brown.
In a speech that sounded like a leader’s conference address, Mr Brown said the civil service was working on a detailed timetable for a Command Paper on devo max to be published by November. A Commons debate will take place on the 16 October, he said.
“There is a time to fight but there is a time to unite,” Mr Brown said. “This is the time for Scotland to unite – and see if it can find common purpose and move from the battleground to the common ground, and let us seek to find high ground in trying to find a way forward for the future.
Scottish independence: Referendum results in pictures
Scottish independence: Referendum results in pictures
Chief Counting Officer Mary Pitcaithly on stage at the Highland Hall at the Royal Highland Centre with the final result of the Scottish Independence Referendum
Pro-union supporters celebrate as Scottish independence referendum results come in at a 'Better Together' event in Glasgow
A pro-independence supporter is pictured in George Square in Glasgow, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence
Pro-independence supporters console each other in George Square in Glasgow
A pro-independence supporter is pictured in George Square in Glasgow
A disappointed 'Yes' campaigners reacting to Scotland's decision to stay in the union with a David Cameron mask at George Square in Glasgow
A dejected 'Yes' supporter in Edinburgh makes his way home in the early hours after Scotland voted decisively to reject independence and remain part of the Union
NO supporters celebrate at the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh as the final results of the Scottish independence referendum are announced
No supporters celebrate their win over the Yes campaign at the Royal Highland centre during the Scottish referendum in Edinburgh
No supporters for the Scottish independence referendum celebrate a result at a No campaign event at a hotel in Glasgow
Pro-union supporters dance in celebration during a 'Better Together' referendum event in Glasgow
Anti-independence supporters react to an early strong result for the "Better Together" campaign at the Royal Highland Centre counting hall in Edinburgh
NO ballots are stacked on a table during the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh
Ballots arrive to be counted at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre during the Scottish referendum in Aberdeen
Ballot boxes arrive at the Highland Hall at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh after polls closed in the Scottish independence referendum
“I don’t want to go on feeling that we are going to weep for a beloved but divided country,” he added. “I don’t want a United Kingdom united in name only. Let’s build a better Scotland together.”
Mr Brown said that he has seen a “thirst to participate”, a “hunger for change” and a “deep desire” to be involved. “It’s not simply about a desire to vote and participate, it is about a deep-seated desire for social change in this country ... the independence we want is from the deprivation of millions of people and the inequalities they face.
“Yes and No posters: let’s throw them away. The Yes and No stickers, let’s cast them into the history books. Let us give our Yes and No stickers an honoured place in history, but today we move forward together as Scots united, a nation again.”
Referring to the constitutional battles on both Scottish devolution and English votes that lies ahead, Mr Brown said: “What benefit would it be to us and to the world if the nation that has pioneered the idea of partnership, has built up experience of three centuries of cooperation, has become a model to the world for solidarity and sharing, decided that it would give up on sharing, partnership and solidarity in a day.
“I cannot bear the thought of a United Kingdom united in name only, of a Union that continues to remain in a fragile state and still under threat, not least if there is a European referendum to come.
“But we don’t need the word ‘great’ in Great Britain to look out of place because we cannot respond to the needs and aspirations of the 45 per cent of Scots who want to abandon it. I believe that Yes and No voters can come together, bind their wounds and shape a common purpose for the years ahead.”
He added: “The UK constitution is changing and we can take some credit that this movement for change has started here, in Scotland, as a result of what you have done.”
Mr Brown also revealed he had spoken to Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan following Friday’s result in what was seen as a clear message that he wants a bigger role on the world stage, in addition to his UN role as girls’ education envoy.
He said he was not returning to frontline politics but that he was “too young to be an elder statesman”.
Speculation is growing among senior members of the Scottish Labour Party that Mr Brown could become the face of Labour’s general election campaign north of the border.
“Who’s going to be the message carrier?” said one MP.
“Clearly Gordon is the key figure for Labour in Scotland during further devolution. If he continues to be the dominant figure for the next few months he will, de facto, be the message carrier [in Scotland] into the election.”Reuse content