By a Newsnet reporter
Labour leader Ed Miliband is visiting Glasgow today in what will be his first major intervention in the Scottish constitutional debate since he pledged “100%” support for Conservative PM David Cameron’s determination to retain the Union.
Advance reports of Mr Miliband’s speech in Glasgow’s City Hall say that the Labour leader will give his backing to Labour’s Scottish leader Johann Lamont’s ‘long campaign’ to save the United Kingdom and will put forward what he describes as a “progressive” case against independence.
Labour sources have billed the speech as a “major” contribution to the constitutional debate. Mr Miliband will share the platform with Ms Lamont.
In an advance release of part of Mr Miliband’s speech, he is expected to acknowledge the defeat inflicted upon his party by the Scottish electorate in May 2011, and to say that he visits Scotland “in humility”. During the campaign for the Holyrood elections, Mr Miliband called upon Scottish voters to use the election as an opportunity to “send a message” to the Conservative Lib Dem coalition in Westminster by voting Labour.
In a pre-released extract from the speech, Mr Miliband says: “I say let’s confront the real divide in our society. Not between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, but between the haves and the have-nots.
“So, I am not here to tell Scots that Scotland cannot survive outside the United Kingdom.
“But I am here to tell you that we need to make Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland a fairer, more just, place to live.
“And we can do this best together.”
Commenting on Ed Miliband’s expected comments as he visits Scotland, Bill Kidd, SNP MSP for Glasgow Anniesland, said:
“With Ed Miliband’s net satisfaction rating at minus 70 Labour are at rock bottom in Scotland. More so since they tied themselves in with the Tories and Lib Dems in the anti-independence camp.
“The attitude of UK leaders like Mr Miliband to Scotland’s ambitions to run our own affairs and take responsibility for our own decisions is just one of the factors holding them back in Scotland.
“Perhaps Mr Miliband has forgotten that the Welfare reform proposals by the Tory/LibDem government at Westminster right now are the real threat to undo all the recent progress on child poverty.
“How on earth can Mr Miliband reconcile his acknowledgement of that threat without realising that Scotland requires those powers?
“As the official figures from Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) show the reality is that Scotland is actually better placed to fund pensions and welfare compared to the UK as a whole. On the basis of taxes raised in Scotland, and once our welfare protection expenditure and state pensions are paid, Scotland subsidies the rest of the UK.
“In short Scotland is more able to afford our pension and welfare bill than the UK but Ed Miliband would prefer to allow the Tory-LibDem UK government to have continued control of our welfare system.”