SNP misleading Scots on independence poll, says Johann Lamont
Labour holding annual conference in Brighton
Johann Lamont, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, speaks at the Labour conference yesterday in Brighton. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
The Scottish National Party is running a campaign of “deceit” to get Scots to back next year’s independence referendum, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has said.
Her declaration came during an unusually well-attended debate on Scotland at the opening day of the Labour Party’s annual conference in Brighton.
The SNP, she claimed, is exploiting decisions by the Conservative-Liberal Democrats coalition in London, if they impact on ordinary people.
For the nationalists, the misery of the people is not a wrong to be corrected – it is a chance to be exploited. For them, grievance is not to be addressed but nurtured. “And that cynicism, that calculation which leaves families suffering now is a price worth paying if it translates into votes next September. It is a cynicism which corrodes our politics,” she said.
The battle between Labour and the SNP over the coming year is central to the referendum’s outcome, since Labour’s supporters in Scotland, particularly those in the west, could be the key to deciding it.
Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is to focus relentlessly on the increases in the cost of living faced by millions of British families over the next three days of conference.
However, one of the early announcements – a rule that would require companies taking on a non-EU worker to also recruit a young British apprentice – has been ridiculed by business. Labour is intent on increasing the £6.19 minimum wage.
“In our first year in office, we will legislate for an immigration Bill which has secure control of our borders [and] cracks down on exploitation of workers coming here undercutting workers already here. [It] says to big companies that bring in people from outside the EU that they can do that, within a cap, but they have got to train the next generation,” Mr Miliband told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.
Much of the political debate in Britain over immigration has changed its tenor, following a significant rise in support for the UK Independence Party.
On Friday, UKIP suffered a disastrous opening to its two-day conference after one of its MEPs called women “sluts” and hit a reporter.
By Saturday, the party had partly recovered its poise, insisting that its anti-immigration, anti-EU message will appeal to voters, along with charging that they had been “kebabbed” by the British press.