Ex PM Brown says unionist campaign in Scotland 'patronising'

LONDON, June 9 Mon Jun 9, 2014 5:48am EDT

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LONDON, June 9 (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday a government attempt to persuade Scots not to vote for independence by using Lego figures to show how much they could save was "patronising."

Brown, prime minister from 2007 to 2010, has been taking an increasingly prominent role in the campaign to stop Scots rejecting the 307-year-old union when they vote in a referendum on Sept. 18.

But he was scathing about his own side's attempts last week to show Scots what they could buy with the extra 1,400 pounds a year London says they could save by staying in the union.

The choices, posted on social media site Buzzfeed and an official government website, ranged from taking a holiday outside Scotland, with a Lego woman sunning herself on a beach, to watching soccer club Aberdeen play all season with a few pies thrown in.

Other suggestions included traveling between Edinburgh and Glasgow 127 times by bus, scoffing 280 hotdogs at the Edinburgh Festival and paying a year's worth of household utility bills.

Brown also criticised nationalist leader Alex Salmond for a stunt at the Wimbledon tennis tournament last year when Scotland's first minister unfurled the Scottish flag behind Prime Minister David Cameron.

"I think that was a very bad mistake," Brown, a Scot who represents a Scottish constituency in the British parliament, told Sky in an interview.

"Just as by the way last week when the Scottish office and the UK government put out that statement that Scotland would be 1,400 pounds better off without independence and they gave the example of fish and chips that you could buy, or holidays in Torremolinos. I thought that was patronising," Brown said.

Polls show Scots are unlikely to vote to break the union, with roughly 40 percent against independence and 30 percent in favour but large numbers are still undecided. (Reporting by Sarah Young, editing by Stephen Addison)

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