By a Newsnet reporter
Gordon Brown has come under fire today after calling for Scotland’s education to be brought under UK control.
The former Prime Minister, who has shoehorned himself into the independence debate front-line, made the call in a speech at Edinburgh University.
The former Labour leader called for an end to Scotland’s centuries old education system and for common UK exams and qualifications. Mr Brown claimed most young Scots didn’t want to be edcucated in an exclusively Scottish education system but instead wanted it intergated into one which was UK wide.
Insisting young Scots were “suspicious of being seen as exclusively Scottish”, the Labour MP added: “… breaking all links with the UK makes no sense – in this case for our young people and for their education.”
Scotland’s distinctive education system, which is revered across the world, was protected by the act of Union over 300 years ago.
The speech by the Kirkaldy MP comes on the day his party colleague, Better Together head Alistair Darling, questioned the Scottish Government’s free university education policy.
Mr Darling said: “It’s perfectly plain that their idea of free university education for Scots, but charging students from elsewhere in the UK, is legally unsustainable, and their assertion that Research Council funding would remain even after Scotland had left the UK is simply laughable.”
Commenting on the speeches, Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“Having undermined the No campaign last week by calling for David Cameron to debate with Alex Salmond, Gordon Brown has done it again. This week, he has endorsed the idea of a UK-wide education system – which could only mean taking powers away from Scotland and giving them back to Westminster – on the very day Alistair Darling and the No campaign are desperately trying to say that they stand for more powers for Scotland.
“In bizarrely arguing against having the Scottish education system, Gordon Brown makes the Yes case for us. If education was controlled by Westminster, not in the Scottish Parliament, Michael Gove would be deciding education policy for Scotland – I doubt if a single person in Scotland would want that, other than Gordon Brown. And students in Scotland would be paying £9,000 a year tuition fees as is the case south of the border, instead of enjoying the benefits of free education.
“We are better off taking decisions for Scotland in Scotland – and by becoming independent we can apply these benefits to the rest of our national life currently controlled by Westminster, including job-creation, getting rid of nuclear weapons, and representing ourselves in Europe.
“That is the real international outlook for young people and everyone in Scotland – instead of having our horizons limited by Westminster, which doesn’t represent Scottish votes or our interests.
“The Yes campaign published a new poll today showing that only a third of people in Scotland trust the Westminster parties to deliver more powers – and no wonder, when Gordon Brown is praising an idea that would actually strip the Scottish Parliament of powers!
“We already know that three-times as many people in Scotland trust the Scottish Parliament, rather than Westminster, to make the right decisions for Scotland – and that is the essence of what a Yes vote is all about.”