The former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, visited the University of Glasgow on Wednesday 29 April to receive an honorary doctorate.
Before the degree was presented by University Principal, Anton Muscatelli, Brown delivered a lecture about why he believes Labour are the only party who can really deliver change and fairness to Scotland.
Addressing a full lecture theatre in the Sir Charles Wilson Building, Brown accused the Conservatives of trying to induce an “anti-Scottish feeling in England” and turning the general election debate into “a referendum on a non-existent imaginary fictitious Labour/SNP pact which can never happen.”
He also criticised the SNP, alluding to the leaked comments allegedly made by Nicola Sturgeon to the French ambassador Sylvie Burmann, which suggested that Sturgeon would rather see David Cameron as Prime Minister again over Ed Miliband. Both Sturgeon and Burmann claimed that Sturgeon did not say these things. Brown said in his speech: “You don’t need to read Scottish Office memos to know what they really want, for the SNP have never supported Labour in any election. Never in their lives.”
This follows comments made by Brown at a rally in Sheffield earlier on in the week, where he said there will be “no negotiations” between Labour and the SNP concerning the formation of a coalition government.
Brown also called political nationalism “episodic”, saying that cooperation between Scotland and the rest of the UK is the only way to solve financial problems:
“The problems which give birth to nationalism cannot be solved by nationalism. They cannot suddenly sort the jobs problem by atomisation when we need cross-country cooperation. And they cannot solve the public services financing problem when we need the benefit of sharing resources such as mansion tax and bankers’ bonus tax across the United Kingdom.”
The former Prime Minister continued by declaring the hypocrisy of Nicola Sturgeon at the recently televised leaders’ debate, where “without irony, [she] told David Cameron that leaving the EU was childish, that it was better to try to work together for that change”.
He called for more commitment to “social justice” from the next government, and listed Labour’s top three priorities: addressing the “silent disease of youth unemployment”, a renewal of the National Health Service, and an “all-out war on poverty”, stating that, “the issues that people thought had gone away to be replaced by identity politics” still remain.
“When the debates are over, when the general election has been decided… we will still have to face up to social injustice.”
Alex Salmond, former First Minister and leader of the SNP, received an honorary doctorate on 21 April, and also presented a lecture to the audience. Both Salmond and Brown talked about the writings of Glasgow University alumnus Adam Smith, the eighteenth century philosopher and economist, to support their arguments, despite the differing aims of their speeches.