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Miliband in call for No vote to back progressive change

A NO vote in September would be a yes to the "biggest progressive change for a generation", Ed Miliband will today tell Scotland.

Speaking in Edinburgh, the Labour leader will praise the massive contribution Scots have made to political life down the ages and launch a personal appeal to voters to reject independence and "be part of our mission to change Britain".

There is a particular pressure on Mr Miliband in the pro-UK campaign to convince the Scottish public that he can win the next General Election, as a poll earlier this month showed most Scots would vote for independence if they thought David Cameron would still be Prime Minister after May 2015.

Steven Camley's cartoon

Labour's offer of "progressive change" includes raising the minimum wage and re-introducing a 10p income tax rate through a mansion tax, restoring the 50p rate, providing a jobs guarantee for young people paid for by taxing bank bonuses, building 200,000 more homes a year and scrapping the so-called bedroom tax.

On constitutional matters, Labour has pledged to introduce more tax powers for Holyrood and is considering radical change for the House of Lords; a US-style senate of elected peers, representing the UK's nations and regions. The idea is backed by a growing number of politicians, including former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Mr Miliband, who has pledged to visit Scotland regularly during the referendum campaign, will direct his speech particularly at traditional Labour voters, whose votes the Nationalists are targeting.

"Scotland has always thought big," the Labour leader will say. "And the way to think big in the 21st century is by changing the United Kingdom. Changing our economy to make it more equal, changing our society to make it more fair and changing our politics to reform the British state so it works for people in every part of our country."

Mr Miliband will talk up the role Scots such as John Smith, Keir Hardie, David Hume and Adam Smith have played during the 300-year Union.

"Every time the United Kingdom has faced huge challenges, the people of Scotland have been there leading the way. Every time there has been a need for big economic and political change, the people of Scotland have been instrumental in making it happen. Every time there has been a call for change in our country, the voices of the people of Scotland have been heard loudest in response."

The Labour leader will also emphasise his party's aim to combat the cost-of-living crisis, noting that one in five Scots, 400,000 people, earn less than the living wage and 90,000 are on zero-hours contracts and living from week to week without job security. He will also note there are now more Britons in poverty who are in work than out of work, insisting this is a "low pay epidemic that shames us all".

Mr Miliband will say the next Labour government will write the next chapter in the battle against low pay, raising the minimum wage by more than average earnings, banning zero-hours contracts, and having a progressive tax system, with the return of a 50p top rate.

He will also pledge that a Labour Government would end the Coalition's "horrendous, iniquitous, unfair bedroom tax," and freeze fuel bills.

The Labour leader will contrast his party's mission to change Britain with the Nationalist plans for an independent Scotland.

"My priority is tackling low pay and inequality; the SNP priority is a 3p cut in corporation tax. My priority is a 50p tax rate to restore fairness; they won't match it. My priority is an energy price freeze; they won't match that either."

Mr Miliband will add that independence would mean creating division, erecting a border between England and Scotland with the likely consequence of "two countries competing against each other with lower taxes, lower terms and conditions and lower wages; a race to the bottom".

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