Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Lord Reid makes appeal to Labour voters

Lord Reid
Image caption Lord Reid served as a Labour MP between 1987 and 2010

Labour voters should "beware Nationalists bearing gifts" ahead of the Scottish independence referendum, a former home secretary has claimed.

Lord Reid argued that independence campaigners were "wrapping themselves in the Red Flag" to "woo" Labour voters.

But he said Alex Salmond had been fighting against Labour "all of his political life".

Nationalists say more than 200,000 Labour supporters intend to vote "Yes".

Last month, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said independence would allow Labour voters to "reclaim their party".

The pro-independence campaign has unveiled two former Labour government ministers as supporters in recent weeks.

'Tooth and nail'

But in a speech in Dalkeith, Midlothian, on Friday morning, Lord Reid said Labour had brought in measures to help make the country fairer - such as the minimum wage, the Race Relations Act and the creation of the NHS and the welfare state.

He claimed the SNP were "interested in only one thing - breaking up Britain" and "dividing the very forces that provided the fairness".

Lord Reid said: "Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon tell us that a vote for separation would be good for the Labour Party. They want to woo Labour voters.

"The reality is at they have opposed every single UK Labour government for the past 80 years. They haven't changed.

"This is the same Alex Salmond who has fought the Labour Party tooth and nail his whole political life. This is the same SNP who a voted for Thatcher to bring down the Callaghan Labour government in 1979.

"The same people who urged Scots to vote for the Lib Dems in 2010 to stop a UK Labour government. The same man who said we didn't mind Mrs Thatcher's economic policies in Scotland. And the same man who worked hand in glove with the Tories during his first term in office.

"Having opposed every Labour government and cause for decades they now want to disguise all that by wrapping themselves in the Red Flag because they want to use Labour voters when it suits their own purpose, their own, single cause - separation. So, beware nationalists bearing gifts."

'Progressive policy'

But Bob Thomson, a former Scottish Labour Party chairman who now backs independence, said he "could not disagree more" with Lord Reid.

Mr Thomson added: "Increasing number of Labour member and supporters are realising that an independent Scottish Parliament offers a much better way of making sure that the wealth of Scotland works for all the people of Scotland than an out-of-touch Westminster ever has.

"That's why polling shows that more than 200,000 Labour supporters are already planning to vote Yes on September 18.

"Instead of being on the receiving end of Tory governments Scotland didn't vote for, a rebalancing of economic power in these islands away from the over-dominance of London - and an independent Scotland delivering a progressive policy programme - would be of benefit both north and south of the border."

Mr Thomson, a member of the Labour for Independence organisation, also said Labour voters could see that the powers offered by the "No" campaign parties would not go far enough to transform Holyrood "from a parliament able to mitigate harmful UK government policies to one that can create a fairer, prosperous and more just society."

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