By Martin Kelly
The anti-independence campaign descended into in-fighting today as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown criticised Tory-led threats over the pound.
The former Labour party leader has described threats to block a currency-union by Chancellor George Osborne as “propaganda” which Scots would see as bullying.
In an interview with the Daily Record, Brown slammed the decision to rule out agreement over the pound, saying: “The way the currency argument was put by the government made the issue Scotland versus Britain.”
The MP said Scots needed, “a better reason” for supporting the Union.
Mr Brown added: “But if the only propaganda that comes from the Conservatives is ‘Britain says No’, it’s bound to have a reaction in Scotland.
“It is bound to make people feel that people are talking down to us or are not taking us seriously or are trying to bully us.”
The statements from Gordon Brown highlight growing divisions within the Labour party and within the Better Together campaign itself.
The intervention, on the eve of yet another launch of the United with Labour campaign, will prove uncomfortable for party colleague Alistair Darling who is spearheading the rival pro-Union Better Together campaign. Mr Darling is rumoured to have been the mastermind of the currency-union threat.
Claims that a future Westminster Government would block a currency-union with a newly independent Scotland were announced in February when Chancellor George Osborne visited Edinburgh. Mr Osborne’s stance was supported by Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander.
The move was seen by many Unionists as delivering a knock-out blow to the campaign for independence. However polls subsequently revealed that the tactic had backfired leading to increased support for Yes.
Brown’s suggestion that the cross party threat could be viewed as bullying by some Scots, chimes with statements made by several senior SNP figures who called the announcement by Osborne “bluster and bullying”.
Commenting on the rift within the anti-independence camp, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said:
“Gordon Brown’s acceptance that it looked like Westminster was trying to ‘bully’ the people of Scotland underlines the divisions and disarray within the No campaign. In attacking Westminster’s bluff and bluster over the pound, he is directing his fire at Ed Balls as well as George Osborne – given the way Labour parroted the empty threats of a Tory Chancellor.
“The reality is that the pound belongs to Scotland every bit as much as the rest of the UK, and independence will give full tax and welfare powers to Scotland while sharing sterling with our friends and neighbours south of the border.
“With the publication of the Tories’ Strathclyde Commission, all parties now claim to believe in greater powers for Scotland within a shared currency – and only a Yes vote secures all the powers that we need to make the wealth of Scotland work for all the people who live here.”