Miliband reveals Scotland will be political laboratory

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The front-runner for the contest to take over leadership of the UK Labour party has announced that Scotland will be used as a laboratory for Labour party policies if the party wins next year’s Holyrood election and Iain Gray becomes First Minister.

David Miliband made the statement on a visit to the Scottish parliament at Holyrood where he met with Labour MSPs….


The front-runner for the contest to take over leadership of the UK Labour party has announced that Scotland will be used as a laboratory for Labour party policies if the party wins next year’s Holyrood election and Iain Gray becomes First Minister.

David Miliband made the statement on a visit to the Scottish parliament at Holyrood where he met with Labour MSPs.  The revelation that London would seek to use Scotland as a laboratory will invoke memories of the poll tax when Scotland experienced the hated policy one full year before it was rolled out UK wide.

The announcement will also fuel speculation that Holyrood leader Iain Gray (pictured) will be a leader in name only.  Previous Holyrood Labour leaders have faced criticism that they were under orders from London.

Mr Miliband also confirmed that he backed more powers for the Scottish parliament although he failed to confirm whether he still supported an independence referendum.

SNP MSP Kenny Gibson reminded him of his reported support for an independence referendum in September 2008 and challenged him to repeat that support.
 
Mr Gibson said:  
“I welcome Mr Miliband to the Scottish Parliament and hope he enjoyed his visit.
 
“However I would be interested to know if he still stands by his reported support for an independence referendum in 2008 and if this extends to his supporters in Scotland?
 
“Or will he back the Tories and block the Scottish people having their say on their constitutional future?
 
“Labour support a referendum on the UK electoral system and for more powers for the Welsh Assembly. It would therefore be consistent for him to support a referendum in Scotland.
 
“We already know how Scotland’s Labour MPs let the Tories into government in May, but if David Miliband does not support a referendum it will be an example of how they will let the Tories carry on having the power to overrule Scotland.”

In September 2008 the then Foreign Secretary told senior figures in the Scottish party that he would hold a referendum on independence if he became Prime Minister.

A senior Labour source at the time said: “David understands the need to be in touch with Scottish politics.
 
“The debate on a referendum has to be settled.  It is overshadowing health, education and crime, issues that the SNP are failing on.
 
“We believe the vast majority of people don’t want Scotland to be a separate state.”

Mr Miliband also announced his intention to play a prominent role in the 2011 Holyrood election campaign.