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Agenda:

In September, people across Scotland will be making a decision that will have an impact not just on Scotland but also on the whole of the UK.

I've lived in England for more than 30 years, but I was born in Edinburgh, my parents still live in the city and most of my family remain scattered across Scotland.

Since 2010, I've represented Stretford and Urmston, near Manchester, in the Westminster Parliament. Like many Labour MPs before me, I'm a Scot representing a seat in England.

So I won't have a vote in. But I still have a view.

Today I'll be in Edinburgh meeting disability and anti-poverty organisations.

And it's with my responsibilities as Shadow Minister for Disabled People, and as a former Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, in mind that I want to make my views on independence absolutely clear.

I'm sure that the SNP are sincere about tackling poverty and doing the right thing by the most disadvantaged people in our society.

But the truth is that independence is always going to be their main political goal, regardless of the problem they're trying to solve.

So, over the past two years, people across Scotland, in some of the most deprived areas of the country, have been told that there is only one answer to tackling poverty and giving people a better chance in life, and that is independence.

Like the majority of people across Scotland, I know that is wrong. The SNP have campaigned for independence for more than 80 years.

It's not a surprise that they'll say and do anything to get over the line. But this is doing nothing to help the most disadvantaged in our society.

Since the SNP came to power in Scotland in 2007, more than £1 billion has disappeared from anti-poverty programmes.

While Scottish Labour pushed for more than a year for the Scottish Government to alleviate the impact of the bedroom tax, it took a year before they decided to do it.

And when they recently had the opportunity to implement the living wage as a condition of procurement, and lift the wages of tens of thousands of low-paid workers, they refused point blank.

With such a poor record on tackling the causes and consequences of poverty, it's no surprise that one million Scots are now living in poverty, including one child in five.

It's clearer than ever that the SNP are reversing Scottish Labour's record in government at Holyrood.

And at the same time, all the arguments that the SNP have made for independence are about asking the most disadvantaged in our society to take a risk with their future.

We know that, as part of the UK, we can pool and share resources across 65 million people instead of just five million.

That means Scotland's welfare state and our pensions are more secure. This is what the SNP want to put at risk.

I know that the best future for Scotland is inside the UK, with a Labour Government. Earlier this week, Rachel Reeves outlined five proposals that the next Labour Government will implement to help disabled people across Scotland.

This comes in addition to the measures Labour leader Ed Miliband has announced to free energy prices, strengthen the minimum wage and end exploitative zero-hours contracts.

This is real change that we can deliver in just 10 months and that will change the lives of people across Scotland.

I don't want to see Scotland leave the UK. For me, it's deeply personal. I don't want to feel separate from friends and family north of the Border.

But it's also political. We are stronger together because our Union allows me to put my values of social justice into action.

And I know that having Scots as part of the Union makes my hand even stronger.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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