Gordon Brown is rallying voters in a final bid for Scotland to vote No. Photo: YouTube screengrab
Show Hide image

"Silent no more": Watch Gordon Brown's patriotic and passionate Scotland speech

The former Labour PM's speech was very well-received this afternoon. Watch and read it here.

The former Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, made what is known in journalistic parlance as a barnstormer of a speech today. It was a passionate, patriotic address that has been very well-received.

He told Scotland: "the silent majority will be silent no more". And it's a great boost to the Better Together campaign that this figure, much-maligned as PM in the dying days of a Labour government, is himself now "silent no more" in public life.

He was speaking to an audience of No voters at the Better Together Love Scotland Vote No rally in Maryhill Community Central Hall. Watch his speech here:

And here's the full text:

The silent majority will be silent no more. And our patriotic vision, proud of our Scottish identity, proud of our distinctive Scottish institutions, proud of the Scottish Parliament that we, not the Nationalist party, created. And proud that with the powers of the Parliament we can guarantee that the National Health Service will be in public hands, universal, free at the point of need, as long and as ever as the people of Scotland want it. And proud also that we are increasing the powers of that Parliament – faster, safer, better, friendlier change than ever the Nationalists could propose. And proud too that we cooperate and share, indeed we Scots led the way in cooperating, sharing across the United Kingdom – common defence, common currency, common and shared rights from the UK pension to the UK minimum wage, from each according his ability to contribute, to each according to his needs. And that is the best principle that can govern the life of our country today. And our patriotic vision up against a nationalist vision that has only one aim in mind: to break every single constitutional and political link with our friends and neighbours in the United Kingdom and we will not have this. The vote tomorrow is not about whether Scotland is a nation; we are, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It’s not about whether there is a Scottish Parliament; we have it, after a referendum ten years ago. It’s not about whether there are increased powers; we are all agreed to increase the powers. The vote tomorrow is whether you want to break and sever every link and I say let’s keep our UK pension, let’s keep our UK pound, let’s keep our UK passport, let’s keep our UK welfare state. 

And let us tell the undecided, the waverers, those not sure how to vote, let us tell them what we have achieved together. We fought two world wars together. And there is not a cemetery in Europe that does not have Scots, English, Welsh, and Irish lying side-by-side. And when young men were injured in these wars, they didn’t look to each other and ask whether you were Scots or English, they came to each other’s aid because we were part of a common cause. And we not only won these wars together, we built the peace together, we built the health service together, we built the welfare state together, we will build the future together. And what we have built together by sacrificing and sharing, let no narrow nationalism split asunder ever. 

And let us tell also those people who have been told unfairly by the nationalists that, if you vote No, you are a less than patriotic Scot. Tell them this is our Scotland. Tell them that Scotland does not belong to the SNP, Scotland does not belong to the Yes campaign, Scotland does not belong to any politician – Mr Salmond, Mr Swinney, me, or any other politician – Scotland belongs to all of us. And let us tell the nationalists this is not their flag, their country, their culture, their streets. This is everyone’s flag, everyone’s country, everyone’s street.

And let us tell the people of Scotland that we who vote no, love Scotland and love our country. The Scotland of the Enlightenment and the Scottish inventors. The Scotland that was the author of the right to work here in Glasgow and the right to free healthcare. The Scotland that helped build the economic laws of this country, the welfare state of this country and contributed to the development of international aid. And do you know all these achievements and all the more achievements I can mention, these happened not outside the Union but inside the Union. They happen not in spite of the Union but because of the Union.  And none of us is any less a Scot as a result of it.  

And let us tell these people who have still got doubts and are wavering, people who were thinking of voting Yes yesterday but could be persuaded today. Let us tell them about the real risks.  This is not the fear of the unknown, this is now the risks of the known.  An economic minefield where problems could implode at any time. An economic trapdoor down which we go from which we might never escape. Real risk one: the uncertainty about the currency, unaddressed by the SNP. Real risk two: the default from debt that they threaten, unaddressed by the SNP. Real risk three: having to build 30 billion of reserves at the cost of the NHS and the welfare state, unaddressed by the SNP. Real risk four: prices rising in the shops, unaddressed by the SNP. Real risk 5: interest rates and mortgage rates going up, unaddressed by the SNP. Real risk six: a million jobs dependent on our trade and our membership of the UK shipbuilding finance, all the problems unaddressed by the SNP. And real risk seven: a massive financial hole that cannot be made up, even a fraction of it, by oil revenues. A massive financial hole that means the risk to the National Health Service does not come from us, it comes from the policies of the Scottish National Party.  

But let us tell people, who are aware now of the risk but think somehow Scotland would be somehow more progressive under the Nationalists. Let us tell them of our vision of the future of Scotland, not the Scotland of insults and abuse and threats and recriminations. The Scotland of Adam Smith and John Smith, the Scotland of civility and compassion, the Scotland of comradeship and community is bigger and better than what we have seen. Tell the people of our vision of the future of Scotland. Yes, a strong Scottish Parliament for fairness, battling for equality across the United Kingdom, but our vision is bigger than that. At every point in every place at every time, particularly through our membership of the United Kingdom, to fight for what is our instinct, what is our dream, what is our demand. A world not of a separate state, but a world of social justice that people can believe in. 

And you know, what sort of message would we in Scotland send out to the rest of the world, we the people who found a way of cooperation across borders, we who pioneered a partnership between nations, we who have stood as a beacon for solidarity and sharing? What kind of message does Scotland send to the world if tomorrow we say we’re going to give up on sharing, we’re going to smash our partnership, we’re going to abandon cooperation and conflict and we’re going to throw the idea of solidarity into the dust? This is not the Scotland I know and recognise and we must make sure it is not the Scotland we become.

Now tomorrow the vote I will cast is not for me. It is for my children. It is for all of Scotland’s children. It is for our children’s future. And you know, when the SNP say now is the time and now is the moment? And yet the decision is irreversible. Are they not forgetting one thing? That this is not a decision just for this time: this is a decision for all time. This is a decision that cannot be reversed or undone. This is a decision from which there is no going back. This is a decision when once it’s done, it’s done. And so I say I have to vote and take account of the needs of my children and future generations and the future of our country in centuries to come. And if you have any doubts about unanswered questions, if you have any doubts and doubts that have been unrecognised by the SNP, if you have still problems with what they’re saying, then if you’re thinking of the future of Scotland and if you don’t know, the answer has to be no. 

And if you’re like me and a million more people who are convinced that the case for cooperation is greater than any case put for separation then I say to you: hold your heads high. Show dignity and pride. Be confident. Let us have confidence that our values are indeed the values of the majority of the people of Scotland. That our principles of sharing and cooperation are far better and mean more to them than separation and splitting apart. Have confidence that people know that our Scottish Parliament and its new powers give people the powers they need and meet the aspirations of the Scottish people. Have confidence, stand up and be counted tomorrow. Have confidence tomorrow and have confidence enough to say with all our friends: we’ve had no answers. They do not know what they are doing, they are leading us into a trap. Have confidence and say to our friends: for reason of solidarity, sharing, justice, pride in Scotland, the only answer for Scotland’s sake and for Scotland’s future is vote No.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Ukip needs Nigel Farage to stand in the Stoke by-election

Despite becoming a global political celebrity, the party's former leader has been waiting 25 years for this moment to win a Commons seat. 

When Ukip's 20 MEPs - back at school today in Strasbourg to elect a new EU President - wave (no fists please) at each other today at lunch across the various dining rooms of the EU Parliament, their main subject of interest will not be the eight candidates they will be voting for by secret ballot to replace bearded German socialist Martin Schulz.

For the record, these eight MEPs include four Italians (the favourite is centre-right 63-year-old Antonio Tajani, a former Italian air force pilot and EU insider regularly seen at the best tables of VIP watering holes like the Stanhope Hotel in Brussels), two Belgians, a Romanian and, yes, a Brit. Thats's 66-year-old Jean Lambert of the Green Party. But nobody in Ukip really cares. The party has the worst attendance and voting record of any political party in the EU - ranked 76 out 76.

Electing a new EU president today in Strasbourg is not nearly of so much concern to Ukip MEPs as the upcoming by-election in Stoke - not the least as quite a few of them (especially representing the Midlands) will be thinking of standing. The central Midlands seat of Stoke Central is a dream seat to have come up for Ukip just as Theresa May is setting out her 12-point "clean Brexit" plan stall.

Ladbrokes still have Labour 4/5 favourite with Ukip 9/4. It's worth a bet as the stakes are so much higher for Ukip if they lose. If they do, many will ask whether Ukip really can supplant Labour in 2020? 

With the prime minister making it clear today in her Lancaster House speech that her government want a hard Brexit, this presents a potential dilemma for Ukip. If the Tories deliver a clean Brexit with no membership of the single market, or EEA, then does the purpose of Ukip "holding the Tories' feet to the fire" over Brexit become less relevant? 

If Ukip alternatively wishes to re-invent itself as the new working class party of the north and Midlands, it will need to show that it can beat Labour - now at its lowest ebb under Corbyn - in key seats like Stoke. Ukip know this and are very good at their by-election ground game with veteran by-election campaign managers like Lisa Duffy as good as any strategist. In Stoke, expect a full expeditionary force of Ukip's colourful and Falstaff-like army of by-election activist troops - arriving by train, coach and foot - to campaign and out manoeuvre Corbyn's New Left Red Army. 

Stoke Central is probably the most important by-election for Ukip since Heywood and Middleton in 2014 which became a watershed moment for the party. Even Ukip was taken off-guard by the result. Without much cash and without campaigning with the full Ukip army zeal, they lost by just over 600 votes and got a recount. 

Looking back, Heywood was a pivotal moment in Ukip's short history. It was the moment the party realised that its future lay not so much in persuading Disgusted with Dave of Tunbridge Wells to vote for Nigel, but rather with disaffected Labour voters wanting something down about immigration that they saw was changing the very face and identity of their local towns, estates and cities. 

But can Ukip really win Stoke? Well, they really have to try as this is their best chance they might get for a while. Which means that the really interesting question being asked by Ukip MEPs today to Paul Nuttall is "Are you running?" The deadline for candidates on the party's Approved Candidates List to put themselves forward is 4pm on Wednesday 18 January.

So far Nuttall's official line - as told to the Daily Express - is that he is not ruling out standing. As a no-nonsense northerner himself (a working class boy from Bootle in Merseyside who played "junior", not professional, football for Tranmere Rovers), Nuttall would appear to be an ideal working class candidate to empathise with the voters of such a socially dispossessed pottery town.

As Chris Hanretty, a political scientist at East Anglia University wrote in the Guardian: "If Ukip doesn’t win, or doesn’t run Labour close, that calls into question its ability to win parliamentary seats...it would suggest that the referendum, far from being a staging post on the road to supplanting Labour, might signal Ukip's peak." 

Ouch. But Hanretty has a point: if Nuttall stands and fails to win in a working class Midlands seat where 69 per cent of the electorate voted to leave, it does raise issues about how much impact can make on the Westminster electoral landscape should there be a snap election in the next few months as a result of repeated constitutional challenges to Article 50 (the Supreme Court ruling is expected to be announced this week) and legal challenges such as the Article 127 challenge brought by the pro-EU pressure group British Infuence, now postponed until February.

This case revolves around the claim that Parliament must be consulted not just over the UK's exit as a EU member but also (and separately) its exit from the European Economic Area (EEA) – and by definition from the Single Market. In her speech today, Theresa May made it clear that the UK will be leaving the Single Market, so this challenge is unlikely to go away. All this political jousting and legal posturing is likely to make for quite a political circus when the Stoke by-election date is announced (usually within three months of an MP dying or standing down). Should Ukip not win this by-election prize fight - or give Labour a very bloody nose and lose by a few hundred votes as they did in Middleton and Heywood in 2014 -  it would certainly be damaging for Ukip. 

Not the least if the party's leader and chief general (an MEP commander for the north west) chooses to stand himself. But Nuttall is faced with a tricky dilemma. If he stands and loses, the idea that that UKIP is the new party of choice for working class former Labour voters in the North and and Midlands may not look so convincing. Yet if Nuttall doesn't stand and the party puts up another strong candidate who goes on to win like deputy chairman Suzanne Evans (born in the Midlands) or West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge (who has a strong personal following in the Black Country and industrial Midlands), then Nuttall's own position as leader of a party with two MPs could be frustrated. 

So it is going to be an interesting day for Ukip in Strasbourg that's for sure. Ukip is a strange party in that two of its most senior and high profile politicians - deputy chairman and Health spokesman Suzanne Evans and the respected former Ukip mayor candidate Peter Whittle (culture spokesman and excellent film critic for Standpoint) are not even MEPs although Whittle is proving to be an adept member of the London Assembly.  

If Ukip win in Stoke, and Nuttall's name is not on the ballot, this could have political ramifications. There is a significant difference in Westminster powers and patronage in having two MPs in Westminster rather than one (as currently with Douglas Carswell with whom Suzanne Evans worked closely with as a Ukip member of Vote Leave, which was pointedly not the party's official designated Leave camp). With two MPs, Ukip becomes a party as opposed to a one man political solo show. 

If the newly-elected MP were to be, say, Suzanne Evans - one of the party's star performers on Newsnight and Have I Got News For You - Nuttall's power base as leader (no longer an MEP in 2020 after we exit the EU) might be diluted by another senior party member becoming a star performing Commons MP. 

So there is much at stake both personally and party-wise for Nuttall. Should Ukip be defeated in Stoke Central by some margin, this would be picked up by Tory and Labour strategists as offering evidence that Labour might not be wiped out by so many seats under Corbyn should May go to the country in say March or April to settle the Brexit mandate. Polls have been saying that under Corbyn Labour could lose as many as 80-100 seats should Ukip prove (with Stoke) that the party is, indeed, the number one threat to traditional Labour vote in the north and midlands.

Whatever happens in Stoke, the Tories won't win. They will be watching to see how the working class vote splits. This is why it is so improbable that May will attempt to call an 'early election' this year, even if the polls continue to show she would win by a landslide. 

The truth is she can't realistically call an election under the Fixed Term Parliament Act even if she she wants to. The Act (one of the worst legacies of the Coalition govt which many MPs want repealed) requires two-thirds of MPs to vote for going to the country - something that not even the most suicidally inclined of Labour MPs will be prepared to do as they will be joining MEPs in being out of a job. 

In the event that Labour take the view that a political blood bath - with Ukip the likely winner in many seats like Stoke Central - is the only way to purge the party of Corbyn, then they will also have to swallow the fact that May (if pushed into an election by troublesome, unelected peers) is likely to spike her election wheel with a manifesto pledge to abolish most of the powers of the House of Lords, as well as booting many of the eldest, most pompous and idle. Such a mandate for radical reform of our largely unelected Lords would hardly be difficult to secure. More blood on the carpet. 

In the event that the Supreme Court rules this week that Article 50 must be signed off by both the Commons and the Lords, any Lib Dem and Labour pro-EU zealots will know that any attempted Kamikaze-style amendments (which could technically delay Parliamentary assent for up to thirteen months) will be met with punitive retribution from Downing Street. 

Ukip only lost in Stoke to Labour's Dr Tristram Hunt in 2015 by around 5,000 votes - largely thanks to disaffected working class voters feeling that their once proud industrial "pottery" city - once a Victorian symbol of industrial creativity and production - had become a symbol of a working class British city in decline. Faced with immigration, housing and other social issues, Stoke voters have felt for some time that the pro-EU metropolitan leaning Labour Party has abandoned them.

Not so Ukip, which is exactly why Nigel Farage chose to stage a major Brexit rally hosted by Grassroots Out (GO!) last April at Stoke's Victoria Hall urging the good people to vote to leave the European Union.

Addressing the packed hall, against his political opponent Tory Chris Grayling MP, and Labour's Kate Hoey (herself a Leaver), Farage drew applause from the Stoke crowd when he said: "This is not about left or right – this is about right or wrong." Farage then started up the audience of hundreds in a chant of "We want our country back." 

In other words, Nigel he knows perfectly well that Ukip can win Stoke. Which leads to the obvious question in Strasbourg today: "Are you going to stand Nigel?" 

Officially, Farage has ruled himself out saying he wants to focus on his international and speaking, broadcasting and advisory career. But as Farage said after picking up the leadership reins after they came loose following the resignation of Diane James: "I keep trying to escape ... and before I'm finally free they drag me back". 

The truth is that in his political heart, I suspect Nigel must be going through a dark night of his political soul over whether he should have stood for Stoke Central. Or still can? In so many ways, he has been waiting over 25 years for this moment. By the time the all-important Heywood and Middleton by-election result came on October 2014 (Ukip share of the vote up 36 per cent), Farage had already committed to standing for the south of England seat of Thanet South - his seventh election campaign to become an MP. Had Nigel stood in the Heywood by-election, he probably would have won. 

All his Ukip parliamentary election campaigns have been in the South, South-West or Home Counties, beginning with Eastleigh in Hampshire in 1994 when he won just 952 votes. But the interesting trend to note is that in his last two attempts to get into the Commons,  he has doubled his vote each time. In 2010 election, standing in Buckingham he won 8,410 votes (almost the same number as I won taking votes of Midland labour voters in North Warwickshire in 2015). In 2015, Nigel got 16,026 votes in South Thanet. 

My point is that had Nigel Farage stood for a solid Labour Northern or Midlands seat in 2015, he may well have won then. Yes, Nigel has said that he wants to get his life back after his extraordinary years as the "Mr Brexit" Ukip leader - apparently now the subject of a Warner Bros Bad Boys of Brexit comedy biopic. 

But as somebody who knows how much the pull of the green leather Commons bench - the true seat of western parliamentary democracy - means to Nigel, I sincerely hope he will re-consider standing for Stoke Central. Yes, he wants to earn money and become a global political superstar. But it will certainly be something to think about as he flies through the night to take up his front row seat in Washington on Friday's inauguration. 

And just think, after what Nigel did for Trump campaigning in Mississippi, how could Donald Trump possibly not campaign for his Brexit friend in Stoke? Now that really would be political theatre.