Exit strategy won't build a better society

I WAS proud last week to see Labour's hard-working MEPs - David Martin and Catherine Stihler - re-elected.

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Proud to see Labour winning in local areas right across the country from Glasgow to Edinburgh and proud to see our share of the vote increase across the country.

But we now have a UKIP MEP in Scotland too.

For UKIP, just as for the SNP, they believe in the politics of identity.

Given the choice between full employment across the UK or leaving the EU, UKIP will always choose leaving the EU.

And faced with the choice of leaving the UK or full employment across the UK, the SNP will always choose to leave the UK.

That sort of politics has never held any sway for me, as an internationalist, socialist and democrat.

It is what unites us that must be the directing force, not what divides.

There are those who want to divide our country depending on what country you come from, or where you were born, or which part of our United Kingdom you live in.

As the constitutional debate continues around us, the discussions in our communities are about real life, and the real choices.

The real choice before us is not people seeking liberation from Brussels or London, but those who want liberation from inequality.

It is not people fighting with their neighbours, but people fighting to get by and get on.

The real choice is not about breaking our unions with Europe and the UK, but the breaking up of the monopolies.

The real choice is between a freeze on energy bills for every household across the country, or tax cuts for the biggest corporations.

And we have the ability right now in Scotland to bring about the social reform we need - with Scottish Labour's Beveridge 21, we will bring our health and social care into the 21st century.

Just as we came together to build a National Health Service and a welfare state, we must stand together to create a better union - one that uses its collective strength to improve the lives and opportunities of all its people and extends its reach beyond its own shores.

Scotland is a country with huge potential, cutting edge engineering and biotechnology, wind and wave power to make it a world leader in renewable energy, a global tourist attraction. But Scotland's greatest asset is not its industry, its oil, its beautiful landscape, but its people.

AND across these islands there are people from different backgrounds with different stories and different beliefs, but we share many of the same worries and aspirations.

We come together in security and celebration, offering a helping hand of protection and unity.

The answer to the British nationalism of UKIP isn't Scottish nationalism.

What we need is not a battle of identities, but a battle of ideas.

Local government

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