Presenting a united front

KIRKCALDY ;'Labour referendum campaign launch ; JOHAN LAMONT'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON
KIRKCALDY ;'Labour referendum campaign launch ; JOHAN LAMONT'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON
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THE debate over Scotland’s future returned to Kirkcaldy on Monday night - and it brought the biggest names to town.

Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar MP, her deputy, and Gordon Brown MP brought the new ‘United with Labour’ campaign to Kirkcaldy just hours after its major launch in Glasgow.

They were at a packed Templehall Community centre as the latest group to enter the big debate outlined its plans.

‘United With Labour’ was billed as ‘‘distinct but complementary’’ to the Better Together group which brought together Labour, Lib Dems and the Tories to back the bid to stay in the UK at the 2014 vote.

The key issues of social justice and fairness for all as part of the union were key messages from all the speakers.

Mr Brown’s involvement also attracted national coverage - his first major high profile role since leaving Downing Street.

Addressing the crowd, he said: ‘‘We are proud to convene the first public meeting. We believe it is important to have a strong Scottish Labour voice in the campaign.’’

Mr Brown highlighted issues from pensions and healthcare to security in a wide-ranging speech in which he criticsed the SNP’s ‘‘dogma’’ when it came to winning a yes vote.

‘‘They are not willing to engage or discuss the issues,’’ he said. ‘‘They simply say everything will be all okay.’’

He warned of ‘‘a dog eat dog competition’’ in a ‘‘race to the bottom’’ if the country abandoned its role within the union, and added: “With no Scottish MPs at Westminster we will have no say in major economic decisions.

“This cannot be a pro-Scottish policy - it is anti-Scottish and will not meet the needs and aspirations of the people of Scotland.

“The question is what best meets the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people and we will seek to show that working through both a Scottish Parliament and a UK Parliament is the best way forward.’’

Johann Lamont, ScottishLabour leader, said the union should be ‘‘celebrated, not broken up.’’

She said the SNP believed in ‘‘separation for separation’s sake’’ and added: ‘‘I believe in fairness, equality and community - they are at the heart of everything we do and we achieve more together than when we are
alone.’’

She criticsed the SNP for doing nothing on the Bedroom Tax, of failing to stand up for the health service, and of spending more time on independence than tackling the issues facing
Scotand.

‘‘There are 30 workstreams of the cleverest people in Scotland all imaginaing what the country might be like after independence.

‘‘Just think how we could stimulate the economy, protect the environment and help our schools if they looked at the significant problems these all face - how much better if those brains were applied elsewhere.

“Instead they are being applied to a world which might not even happen. How dare they use all of that resource simply to prosecute a political case.’’