Ex-Labour Minister Backs Yes Vote

6 July 2014, 06:24 | Updated: 6 July 2014, 06:27

A former Labour minister has declared his support for a Yes vote in Scotland's independence referendum.

Leslie Huckfield, who served in James Callaghan's government in the 1970s, is urging Labour supporters to follow his lead and vote for independence on September 18.

He said that an independent Scotland offers an opportunity to implement the policies and causes that Labour has traditionally supported.

Mr Huckfield was elected at the age of 24 in 1967 for the seat of Nuneaton and Bedworth in England.

He was Labour's front bench industry spokesman from 1979 to 1983 and under-secretary of state for industry from 1976 to 1979, serving under industry minister Eric Varley.

Mr Huckfield, who now lives in Auchterarder, Perthshire, said: "When I moved to Scotland in 2004 it became apparent that this is a country with a veritable passion for social justice. The agenda in England represents the disintegration of many principles and policies to which Scots hold dearly.

"I want to support the Yes campaign in any way I can, especially since I don't believe that many people in Scotland sufficiently understand or recognise the emerging political agenda in England.

"I find worrying not only the coalition agenda under (David) Cameron and (Nick) Clegg but also that (Ed) Miliband and New Labour don't offer anything really different. In short, I believe that an independent Scotland is an opportunity not only to free itself from Tories and a UK coalition agenda but also from the agenda of New Labour.''

He was sponsored throughout his career by the Transport and General Workers' Union, and is now active in Unite, leading the campaign to extend the Living Wage in Edinburgh.

Mr Huckfield left the Labour Party in protest at the Iraq war and "New Labour's continuing political drift''.

He said: "I've been active in politics for over half a century. For me, an independent Scotland provides an historic opportunity for the implementation of many of the principles and causes which I have supported all my active political life. I'm not saying that this might happen overnight. But most of this won't happen at all as long as Scotland remains part of the UK.

"A radical independent Scotland is a lifetime's opportunity to start again. We can lay new foundations in an independent Scotland - to implement the policies and causes that the Labour Party has traditionally supported. That's why I'm voting Yes on Thursday 18 September 2014 and hope that you will join me.''

Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins said Mr Huckfield's support is a "major boost'' for the campaign.

He said: "Like increasing numbers of Labour supporters, Les Huckfield realises that the only way for Scotland to use its enormous wealth, resources and talent to create the prosperous and fairer country we know it can and should be is to take our own future into our own hands.

"I am delighted to have Les's support and I am confident that more and more similarly minded people will come to Yes and get us over the winning line on September 18.''

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "The Yes campaign is looking increasingly desperate. Everyone knows the overwhelming majority of Labour supporters want Scotland to stay strong in the United Kingdom and will be voting No in September to stop Alex Salmond breaking up the country.''