Ed Balls has spoken of the fast pace of change which is leaving people feeling left behind, and of losing control.
His comments came as he delivered the 2017 Adam Smith Lecture in Kirkcaldy.
Mr Balls, former Shadow Chancellor who became a huge star on ‘Strictly’ , looked back on his life in politics and the profound impact of Brexit and the vote to leave the EU, with the prospect of a second independence referendum in Scotland now back on the agenda.
He also touched on the sweeping changes of the past dozen years – from a change of Government to the election of Donald Trump.
Mr Balls also issued a strong defence of the union as the Government prepares for a hard Brexit out of Europe.
He said: “I can see how frustrating it is for Scotland to see the government in Westminster hurtling towards something which could turn out to be a pretty destabilising and extreme version of Brexit,” he acknowledged.
“But the reality is, I think, that there are very strong negative reasons why breaking up the union would be a bad thing.’’
He spoke of the ‘‘history of shared common endeavour and rising to meet big challenges together’’ and said First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon’s drive for a second independence referendum was a hindrance.
‘‘The big challenge at the moment is to make sure that the UK doesn’t leave the EU in a damaging and destabilising way which costs lots of jobs and investment,’’ he said. “We should keep the focus on Theresa May and Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, on the decisions they are making – I’m not sure Nicola Sturgeon is helping keep the pressure on Theresa May at the moment.”
Mr Balls also acknowledged the pace of change was having an impact on people across the country.
‘‘It is fast moving, and difficult to cope with,’’ he acknowledged.
He highlighted the impact on middle income jobs, and the growing inequality ads those at the top continued to reap the benefits, while those with nothing were left behind.
>> The Festival Of Ideas continues across the weekend at the Adam Smith Theatre. Speakers include Gordon brown, Sir Gerry Grimstone, and Brendan Cox who will deliver the first ever Jo Cox Memorial Lecture this evening.
Full programme at FestivalofIdeas