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Brown urges Scots to back Labour

Gordon Brown has urged Scots who backed independence in the referendum to vote for Labour in the upcoming general election, claiming this will result in £450 million more for the health service and to tackle youth unemployment.

The former prime minister also said pensioners would be in line for more money, as Scotland could receive an additional £100 million a year as a result of "pooling our resources across the whole of the United Kingdom".

If Labour wins the 2015 UK elections, Mr Brown said the party's proposed bankers' bonus tax would net £200 million to tackle youth unemployment in Scotland,

Meanwhile he suggested a mansions tax could provide a £250 million boost to the health service north of the border.

While the political debate north of the border has been dominated by the independence referendum, the former Labour leader said it was time to "reset the button of Scottish politics" and focus on how to improve the lives of ordinary people.

Many of the 1.6 million voters who backed independence in September's referendum had previously supported the Labour Party.

To help Ed Miliband win May's general election Mr Brown said his party must "persuade Yes voters that the Parliament we are creating is the best way to advance social justice for the future".

The UK Labor leader has already pledged early legislation to bring in devolution, which would see Holyrood get the power to control income tax bands and rates, along with the power to top up benefit payments

Mr Brown, who played a key role in securing the pledge of more powers for Scotland, said the changes that had now been proposed by the Smith Commission would make Holyrood more powerful than federal states in America.

He t old Labour councillors in Glasgow: " With this powerful parliament it is time to rest Scottish politics. Because the argument will be in the future no longer what the Scottish Parliament can't do, it is about what the Scottish Parliament can do.

"The argument is no longer about constitutional change, it has got to be about economic and social change. T he issue now and for the next two years and beyond is about improving the lives of the people.

"For the last three years we've been talking about Scotland in the abstract, now we've got to talk about how we change and improve the lives of Scottish people."

He argued there was a " consensus in Scotland about the promotion of social justice", but insisted Labour was "uniquely placed to deliver the change that Scotland needs".

Some 70,000 young Scots are registered unemployed, including 10,000 who are suffering from long-term joblessness, Mr Brown said, branding this "unacc eptable".

He added: " That's why when Ed Balls announced he was going to charge the bankers a bonus tax to help pay for action on youth unemployment, we have got the chance in Scotland to do something very big."

Such a levy would result in "£ 200 million paid to Scotland by a bankers' bonus tax that is primarily charged on the city of London" which would then be "available to the Scottish people to do something about youth unemployment".

Mr Brown also told how the next Labour government would introduce mansions tax which "i s to go to fund the National Health Service".

But he added: "Again the SNP, who don't support a mansions tax, will not have that money to support the health service in Scotland. But because of the redistribution of resources across the whole of the United Kingdom, £250 million will come to Scotland."

On pensions, the former chancellor said Scotland already gets £400 million a year more in benefits for senior citizens than it would if the money was distributed based on population alone "b ecause we have more pensioners with greater needs".

Mr Brown added: " As the number of pensioners rises we will get £500 million by the end of the next Parliament and that is an extra £100 million. That is the equivalent at £500 million of £10 a week for every pensioner in Scotland. That is what we get for pooling our resources across the whole of the United Kingdom."

Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney commented: " It is not for Gordon Brown, or any politician or party, to presume to dictate what the terms of political debate in Scotland should be - that is up to the people as it always should be, and they will have their say at the ballot box in May.

"Gordon Brown and the Labour leadership stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories in the No campaign and now know they face paying a very high electoral price for that.

"It says it all that this speech was to a room full of Labour councillors - once again, Labour are having conversations with themselves and not with the ordinary people they claim to represent.

"The fact is the package of proposals from the Smith Commission, welcome though they are, do not go anywhere near meeting Gordon Brown's pledges of 'near federalism' and 'home rule'. As such, they fall far short of the expectations of civic Scotland, including the STUC, and of a majority of public opinion across Scotland as whole."

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