STAYING in the United Kingdom is the best route to social justice for the Scottish people, Ed Miliband was set to tell delegates at Scottish Labour’s conference this afternoon.
He was due to warn that if the Nationalists succeeded in breaking up the UK, Alex Salmond was poised to join David Cameron in a “race to the bottom”, competing on tax breaks for the richest and lowering living standards for everyone else.
Mr Miliband was expected to promise that, in contrast, a Labour UK government would tax bankers’ bonuses to boost jobs for the young, restore the 50p rate for people earning over £150,000 a year, freeze energy bills and stop exploitation through zero-hours contracts.
He was also set to spell out how Labour’s proposals for substantial new powers for the Scottish Parliament would see greater fairness in income tax and more control of social security budgets while still sharing risks across the UK.
He was expected to say: “When we’re in need, we don’t ask whether we are Scottish, English, Welsh or Northern Irish, we look after each other.”
Mr Miliband’s keynote address on the opening day of Labour’s three-day gathering in Perth comes just days after Scottish leader Johann Lamont unveiled a package of proposed further devolution, Powers for a purpose, which includes increased control of income tax and housing benefit.
The package is seen as enough of a compromise to prevent a backlash from some of the party’s Scottish MPs at Westminster who were unhappy about an earlier draft of the proposals which would have handed Holyrood full control of income tax.
Mr Miliband was expected to highlight how the SNP refused to match Labour’s plans for an energy price freeze or restore the 50p tax rate.
He will say: “Think how hard it would be to stop a race to the bottom happening if, on one island, we had a border running along the middle so we were divided in two. It would be two lanes in a race to the bottom – with David Cameron and Alex Salmond at the starting blocks – in which the only way they win is for you to lose.”
And citing the memory of the late John Smith, Mr Miliband was due to say: “Twenty years on, the flame of social justice still burns. We can honour his legacy by winning the fight for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom.”