SCOTLAND would find itself “under the Tories forever” if it voted for independence, outspoken MP George Galloway told a rally in Edinburgh.
He claimed the withdrawal of Scottish MPs from Westminster would mean a permanent Conservative government south of the Border, which would then dictate policy to Scotland through the Bank of England.
Two sets of protesters demonstrated outside the Assembly Rooms in George Street ahead of Mr Galloway’s “Just Say Naw” meeting – radical independence campaigners urging a Yes vote and the right-wing Scottish Defence League.
The former Labour politician, now Respect MP for Bradford, told the audience of around 250 inside: “I’m here because I love Scotland. The argument for keeping this small island of English-speaking people together rather than separating, or partitioning, or breaking it apart is not being made well enough by the mainstream political authorities and figures.”
He said he could never be part of the official Better Together campaign for a No vote because he could not share a platform with the Tories or sit under the Union Jack.
He said: “If I thought that by becoming independent Scotland would become a socialist country and propel people south of the new border into a new radical trajectory, I would be in favour of it.”
But he claimed the opposite was the case. He said: “If you become independent you will have a Tory government determining your affairs always.
“This is the key point in this independence debate. If the country breaks up, the Tories will be in power at Westminster forever – do the maths.
“And if the Tories are in power at Westminster that means the Bank of England will be under Tory domination.”
He said Alex Salmond’s plan for independence was “hare-brained in many respects” but the “fatal flaw” was keeping sterling as the currency.
He said: “The UK pound is governed by those who issue it, not those who use it.”
So in what sense would Scotland be independent, he asked, “Actually, you would be less independent than you are now – because at least now you can vote the Tories out. The Tories will cut tax and therefore spending and the Scottish Government will have to follow suit. “Not only will you not get out from under the Tories by independence, you will be underr them for ever.”
And he dismissed the idea an independent Scotland could choose a radical alternative. He said: “If you think that after independence Alex Salmond is going ditch the Queen, leave Nato, break with the pound and refuse to pay the debt once you’ve voted him in, you’ve got another think coming.
“Stop pretending Tommy Sheridan is going to be the prime minister of an independent Scotland. The prime minister is going to be Alex Salmond, and then it will be Nicola Sturgeon: Mrs Thatcher in a kilt.”
Away from the rally, Mr Galloway said he would like to be prime minister of an independent Scotland if his bid to convince Scots to vote No failed.
He said he would prefer “a real Labour prime minister of the whole of Britain” but would “fancy being prime minister of Scotland” if it voted to go it alone.