Brown's Unity Call To Supporters

3 March 2015, 07:08

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has urged Yes and No supporters to come together in a new community organisation to fight for social justice.

In one of his final speeches before stepping down as an MP, Mr Brown said people on either side of the independence debate were equally motivated by a desire for change.

"I believe we should be putting our energy into a community organisation that can spread across the whole of Scotland,'' he said.

"Not Yes Scotland, not No Scotland, but Serve Scotland.''

Mr Brown argued that the world is becoming more integrated, interconnected, networked and interdependent.

"Fifty years ago John Kennedy, the president of the United States, said: 'We used to have a Declaration of Independence, now we need a declaration of inter-dependence,'' he said.

"Even the Scottish National Party now recognise that they need to be part of an inter-dependent world.''

In an earlier draft of the speech circulated in advance, Mr Brown paraphrased Kennedy's 1961 inauguration address to urge Labour to ask "not what Scotland can do for Labour, but what Labour can do for Scotland''.

He attacked the SNP for focusing on "the minutiae of Westminster insider politics like confidence and supply deals'' with Labour ahead of the general election, rather than ``the big issues that matter such as ending poverty, unemployment, inequality and injustice in Scotland''.

Mr Brown refused to be drawn into the debate sparked by Labour peer Lord Moonie, who said a Labour coalition with the Tories "would be better than one with the SNP'', and Labour MP Gisela Stuart who said the party should not dismiss the possibility of a "grand coalition'' with the Tories.

Speaking in a church hall in the east end of Glasgow, Mr Brown said: "I am not standing in the next term of parliament and I am not fighting the next general election so I am not going to get drawn into this business.

"I really think it is for other people to get into these conversations about what they do.''

Mr Brown also said his vision of "home rule'' for Scotland is similar to the principles of Labour's founders in Scotland.

"My view is that they would have come to a policy that was very similar to the one that we have now,'' he said.

"The maximum of autonomy where it is necessary to make your own decisions on matters where it can be done within Scotland, but sharing where it is also necessary to the benefit of the people of Scotland.''

SNP Depute Leader Stewart Hosie said: "Given their toxic alliance with the Tories for the last two and a half years, people in Scotland would be forgiven for thinking that Labour's focus is not what they can do for Scotland - but what they can do for their Tory allies.

"And despite this transparent attempt to cover for the failures of Jim Murphy's leadership, Gordon Brown has the substance all wrong. On housing and jobs the SNP is making real progress compared to Labour's legacy of failure - improving on Labour's appalling record on council house building and well on course to exceed the target for 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships this year.

"The General Election is Scotland's opportunity to hold real power at Westminster and to deliver on the priorities of the people who live here - ending austerity, protecting our public services and investing in jobs.

"That is exactly why more and more people who voted Labour in 2010 are backing the SNP to make Scotland's voice heard loudly and clearly - and make Scotland's priorities the priorities at Westminster.''