Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Miliband makes social justice case for UK

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionEd Miliband: "I support Scotland as part of the United Kingdom"

Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned that efforts to improve social justice would be hindered by independence.

Delivering a speech in Glasgow, he rebutted the arguments advanced by First Minister Alex Salmond.

Mr Miliband had been anxious to avoid suggestion of London interference in the Scottish independence referendum.

He said it was right that the people of Scotland make the decision, but he added that he wanted to advance the case for a "fair, just United Kingdom".

Mr Miliband began his address by saying Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester had done the right thing in not taking his bonus.

He added that the only way to avoid a repeat of the bank bonus story was to have a "decisive shift in rules and behaviour" and have a proper debate about executive pay and "responsible capitalism".

Turning to the issue of the forthcoming referendum, Mr Miliband told his audience he spoke with humility, following Labour's Holyrood defeat last May.

He said his role in the campaign to keep the Union would be to support the party's Scottish leader Johann Lamont.

Last week, Mr Salmond delivered a lecture in London which claimed that an independent Scotland could be a "beacon for progressive opinion south of the border".

The SNP leader said that, even without control over Scotland's taxes and welfare system, his Scottish government was pursuing policies which were far more socially just than those of the coalition government in London.

The first minister then returned to Scotland to make public his plans for a referendum on independence, setting out the question and launching a consultation in advance of a planned autumn 2014 vote.

Mr Miliband travelled to Scotland on Monday to argue that the goals of fairness and social justice were more readily achieved by the people of the UK working together.

He told the gathering: "I say let us confront the real divide in our society.

"Not between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, but between the haves and the have-nots."

'Best together'

He added: "So I am not here to tell Scots that Scotland cannot survive outside the United Kingdom.

"But I am here to tell you that we need to make Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, a fairer, more just, place to live.

"And we can do this best together."

Mr Miliband said that as the campaign over the referendum begins, it was important to understand the stakes.

He continues: "Some people, including the First Minister, will tell you it is a battle between him and the Prime Minister, between the government of Scotland and the government of the United Kingdom.

"So let me say clearly - it is right that the people of Scotland decide the rules and timing of this referendum.

"But it must be the people of Scotland, not just Alex Salmond.

"It is right that the decision in this referendum is made in Scotland."