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Brown slams currency campaigning

The UK Government's handling of the currency row in the debate over Scottish independence has been criticised by Gordon Brown.

The former prime minister also said that Scotland would be more unequal under an independent SNP government than it is as part of the Union, as he made his latest intervention in the referendum debate.

The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath made the comments during an interview in the Daily Record newspaper ahead of the official launch of Labour's campaign for a No vote.

Commenting on the currency row, he said: "The way the currency argument was put by the Government made the issue Scotland versus Britain."

Chancellor George Osborne ruled out the prospect of the Scottish Government's favoured option of a formal currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK - a position which was backed by Lib Dem Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander and shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

"Patriotic Scots need a better reason for supporting what I think is a positive statement and belief - that we can have a strong Scottish Parliament and still be part of the United Kingdom," Mr Brown said.

"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."

Mr Brown highlighted his own priority to see a more socially just and equal society, as he criticised SNP policies such as a cut in corporation tax.

He said he had concluded that "Scotland would probably be more unequal under an independent SNP Government than it is now".

Mr Brown will join Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont at an event in Glasgow to launch United With Labour, the party's campaign to show it has "a vision of Scotland's future that is wholly different from the SNP and totally different from the Conservatives".

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."

Green MSP and co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "Gordon Brown's opinion is that only within the UK can we reduce inequality, but of course even during Labour governments we've seen wealth accruing to those who need it least.

"Fiddling at the edges of a broken system won't achieve the fundamental change we need, and by voting Yes we can show the rest of the UK that a fairer society is possible.

"There are plenty of people, myself included, who have serious issues with SNP policies and have been pretty vocal about it - independence goes beyond party policies."


From Belfast Telegraph