Miliband: independence would be ‘disaster’

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In a Question and Answer session in Portobello on Thursday, Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed that Labour was talking about the ‘key issues’ in the Holyrood election campaign and stated his belief that the campaign was going well and was succeeding in getting Labour’s message to the voters.  Mr Miliband dismissed recent polls which have shown the Labour party’s initial lead in the campaign

At the Labour organised Q&A session, Mr Miliband said: “I would characterise it as a good campaign that is making the arguments on the issues that matter.”

In an attempt to wrest back the electoral agenda, which has until now been set by Labour’s main opponent the SNP, the Labour leader claimed that the issue of independence was a ‘distraction’ which would undermine an SNP government and asserted: “… the issue that matters is this: do you want a government in Scotland that is fighting on the issues that matter to you like jobs, the NHS, the living wage?  Or do you want a government in Scotland, led by Alex Salmond, an SNP government, which is going to be distracted by the issue of independence?”

However Mr Miliband also believes that the most important issue for the Scottish electorate is the ‘message’ they can send to Westminster, telling the audience at the Q&A session, which included a number of undecided voters: “This is an important election for the message we send across the United Kingdom.  The question is do we send a message at these elections across the United Kingdom that we don’t like the direction of the Westminster Government, we don’t want them moving forward and we want to see the back of them.

“If you want to do that, and you want to have somebody as First Minister who isn’t actually interested in the caramel logs and ice cream cones but is a man of huge integrity then vote Labour next Thursday.”

Speaking to the Financial Times earlier today, Miliband repeated Ed Balls’ comment that independence for Scotland would be a ‘disaster’, saying: “If Alex Salmond were to win a second term, he has said it would give him moral authority in relation to independence. I think that would be a disaster for Scotland; I think it would be a disaster for the United Kingdom.”