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From big hitters such as the Evening Standard and Daily Herald down to the Wigan Observer or Nuneaton News, this thread will be about all things local and will be to communicate issues in local areas or feelings that may grow in specific regions in the country. Often worth keeping an eye on even more than national headlines.
“Scotland is better off being inside United Kingdom and the European Union.” – Ariadne Suchet speaks exclusively to the Daily Record
Ariadne Suchet should never have been Prime Minister. A year ago she was an unknown left wing backbencher. A rollercoaster leadership campaign thrust her into the limelight of British politics, and Government scandal and austerity thrust her into No10. But there is nothing hesitant about Ariadne Suchet as she arrives in Glasgow. She is not shy about taking swipes at the SNP either, telling us that “right now UK has its most progressive government in quite some time and we are working to ensure to reduce income inequality and eradicate poverty in UK… the SNP voted against our budget which has addressed the biggest problems that they have pointed out in the referendum campaign such as the bedroom tax, increasing the basic tax allowance, pension triple lock, public sector pay increases, investment in housing, NHS, education and more. The SNP promises one thing in Scotland and does another in Westminster.”
But the Prime Minister isn’t content to stick to the Better Together playbook and the so-called “Project Fear” that has become one side in a deeply divisive campaign. Speaking to us, she was clear – a No vote is not a vote for the status quo. Scotland will get more powers either way, and those powers will be made permanent. And she was specific – this means more tax powers. “We will widen the variation in income tax in the Scotland Act by half from 10p to 15p. We will also introduce new Scottish Progressive Rates of Income Tax, so that the Scottish Parliament can increase the rates of tax in the higher and additional bands. What does this mean is that, if a UK government chooses not to set fair tax levels to higher tax bands, Scotland will have power to set these rates on their own. We will expand powers of Scottish Parliament have over welfare benefits and energy arrangements. Finally, we will give Scotland powers over Scottish Parliament and make the Scottish Parliament a permanent part of the UK constitution to ensure if a future government wants to reverse any of the devolution, Scotland needs to consent for these changes.”
But she wasn’t shy of taking the Yes campaign to task for its over-optimistic forecasts about an independent Scotland. “A lot of SNP projections are based on rosy projections based on high oil prices and Scotland being able to actually expand their economy while being out of United Kingdom and European Union. With a single vote, Scotland would lose its biggest trading arrangements, Scotland would lose access to intelligence sharing that protects Scots, Scotland would lose access to widest network of workers, experts and qualified employees that we desperately need for our schools, our NHS, our universities, our fisheries, our agriculture industry and in almost every single industry out there. With independence Scotland will be forced to enact harsher austerity measures than previous governments have imposed upon UK, it won’t have access to single market and the four freedoms that EU provides for Scots. Scotland and Scottish people must put that into consideration when they vote.”
Finally, the Prime Minister made a direct plea to Labour voters to reject what she called the SNP’s nationalism. “The SNP is a nationalist party. When we expanded rights of asylum seekers in the parliament and aid undocumented immigrants with their cases, this supposed progressive party was against our proposal and voted against it. So far almost every single time my government has tried to pass progressive legislation SNP have voted against it. I want people of Scotland to look at their record clearly and look at their promises and rhetoric, they will notice something is off and I can assure you it is off. If you can not trust SNP over a budget or this immigration act, can you trust them when they want to take a step into most radical step Scotland will ever take in quite some time, one that is irreversible. The fact is that Scotland is better off being inside United Kingdom and the European Union.”
“This referendum is final. If Scotland votes to leave then there's no going back.” – Dylan Macmillan tells the Scottish Daily Mail why you should vote No
The No campaign and it’s SNP taskmasters have made plenty of snide remarks about English politicians coming north of the border to tell Scots how they should vote. It’s a point of view that exposes their only thinly veiled nationalism – of course our countrymen of more than 300 years should tell us what they think. And especially when those include the Prime Ministers and the former Prime Ministers of our United Kingdom.
Dylan Macmillan, Leader of the Conservative Party, has been one of the most active Westminster voices in the campaign. No one can accuse him of a vested interest – he’d have won the last election if Scotland hadn’t been voting. Speaking to us, he said that the most important thing for Scottish voters to bear in mind is the economy. “I have committed to fighting as positive a campaign as I can based on what Scotland could be as a part of the United Kingdom. The Scottish economy is better served in the union than outside it, Scottish businesses have more opportunities inside the union than outside it, and the Scottish people have a greater chance of prosperity inside the union than outside it.”
He also said that thanks to the decisions of the last government the Scottish economy had more opportunities than ever. “our economy is growing at one of the fastest rates in the EU, our inflation is stable, and real wages are rising; an independent Scotland would put all of those at risk. As a part of the UK the Scottish people get to be a valuable part of a world leading economy which provides jobs and income for people from the Highlands to the Lowlands and from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, as part of one nation we have a tariff-free existence and access to a single currency that means that Scottish businesses can sell to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland without any difficulty, and as a part of the European Union they can sell easily to 27 other nations as well.”
The former Prime Minister also pledged to support further devolution to Scotland, although he and the Prime Minister have different ideas on what should be devolved. “Voting to remain a member of the United Kingdom is not a vote for the status quo… we support devolving income tax varying powers to the Scottish Parliament. We support the devolution of Corporation Tax varying powers by 5%. We believe in devolving constitutional issues that affect only Scotland to Holyrood, the power to set the voting age for Scottish Parliament and Scottish Council elections, the power to change the voting systems that those elections use (subject to a super-majority), and the cast-iron guarantee that the Scottish Parliament will only be abolished by super-majority vote on the floor of the Scottish Parliament or via a simple majority in a referendum of all Scottish voters.”
Like Ariadne Suchet, the Leader of the Opposition isn’t afraid to hit out at the SNP and its underhand referendum tactics – including his now controversial remark about Venezuela. He said to us that Scottish voters shouldn’t “be fooled by the Scottish National Party. Their belief that effectively the entire economy could be built on oil reserves and revenues in the short to medium term is farcical, just ask Venezuela and their -5% growth how putting all of your eggs in the oil basket works without diversity in your economy. Their belief that an independent Scotland would automatically join the European Union has been debunked by the EU themselves, and their belief that they could keep the pound and align all monetary policy is frankly bonkers.”
Asked what his final appeal to voters would be, the Leader of the Opposition lit up with a passion he has rarely shown on other issues. “This referendum is final. If Scotland votes to leave then there's no going back, Normal politics don't apply here, there are no protest votes, there are no third parties, there's just a simple binary choice that will define Scotland's future and the rest of the United Kingdom's as well as it happens. If you believe in independence then vote with your convictions, but if you are wavering at all then you have to vote to stay in the United Kingdom, a vote that delivers a stronger economy, more jobs, and higher pay than the alternative which is very much a leap into the unknown based on faulty projections and dare I say it outright lies. Scotland is very much better in the United Kingdom than outside it, if you believe that then vote "No" in the referendum tomorrow.”