Labour To Pay The Price: Sillars

7 November 2014, 06:00 | Updated: 7 November 2014, 06:36

Electoral defeat of Labour in Scotland by the SNP in 2015 will remove "a major obstacle on the road to real power'', according to prominent pro-independence figure Jim Sillars.

Mr Sillars will tell SNP members that victory over its rivals north of the border in the general election will give it the political power to extract control over everything but defence and foreign affairs.

The former SNP deputy leader will also tell them that significant gains in the 59 Westminster seats available in Scotland will write the "epitaph of the Labour Party'', which he says has been damaged by its involvement in the pro-union Better Together campaign.

Mr Sillars's rallying call comes amid a leadership contest for Scottish Labour, and after a poll showed the party would be left with just four seats in Scotland if a general election was held immediately.

The Ipsos Mori poll conducted at the end of October found 52% of Scots would vote for the SNP, with Labour support down to 23%.

The findings mean the SNP could secure 54 seats at Westminster, with Labour taking just four compared with its current 41, according to the Electoral Calculus website.

A second poll by YouGov put the SNP on 43%, which would give them 47 seats with Labour on 27%, which would slash their Scottish seats to 10.

In a speech to the Edinburgh Central Branch of the SNP, Mr Sillars will say: "The Labour Party is going to learn an old rule of politics: that the victors of today so easily become the vanquished of tomorrow.

"Labour leaders, and members, will pay the price of being part of the unionist 'Project Fear', in which they engaged in straight lies, distortions and were happily complicit in fear-mongering by big business interests, and their role as a Tory front organisation.''

He will add: "If those Labour people who voted Yes stay with our side, which in this coming election means voting for the SNP or, as I hope will happen, a single agreed candidate from among the Yes coalition, Scotland can be in a position to control what is likely to be a fractured Westminster, and therefore extract from it all the powers involved in the concept of 'Devo Max+' - that is everything in schedule five of the 1998 Act, except defence and foreign affairs.

"Next May will give Scots the opportunity to remove a major obstacle on the road to real power, by writing the epitaph of the Labour Party - that it died because it lied on behalf of the Tories.''

The SNP must "get most of the 59 Westminster seats in 2015 - which will give us the political power to 'extract' more powers, by holding out the threat to the Union of a decisive vote for independence in the 2016 Holyrood elections'', Mr Sillars will add.

MP Jim Murphy and MSPs Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack are the three candidates vying to become Labour's new Scottish leader, following the resignation of Johann Lamont, who accused Labour in Westminster of treating the party in Scotland like a branch office.

A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: "It is sad to hear Mr Sillars talk of the victors and the vanquished. The referendum was not a battle played out on the fields of Bannockburn. Rather, the reality is that Scots in huge number took the decision to vote to stay part of the UK, in a free and democratic way.

"Next May the people of Scotland will go to the polls again, where the choice will be between a Labour Party committed to freezing energy bills, increasing the Living Wage and delivering more powers to the Scottish Parliament, or a Tory Party who will give more tax cuts to millionaires while delivering a cost-of-living crisis for everyday families.''