Manchester United’s manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has attacked the SNP’s attempts to cap at £500 the limit for donations to any of the referendum organisations from outside Scotland as an attempt to “silence” the voices of Scots living elsewhere in the country.
“Eight hundred thousand Scots, like me, live and work in other parts of the United Kingdom. We don’t live in a foreign country; we are just in another part of the family of the UK.
“Scots living outside Scotland but inside the UK might not get a vote in the referendum, but we have a voice and we care deeply about our country.
“It is quite wrong of the man who is supposed to be leader of Scotland to try and silence people like this. I played for Scotland and managed the Scotland team. No one should question my Scottishness just because I live south of the Border.”
Elsewhere, it is exactly one year since Johann Lamont’s election as leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
She says her first year in the job has been “really good fun”.
Reflecting on her tenure at the helm of the good ship Scottish Labour – which she took control of following the party’s disastrous performance in the 2011 Holyrood elections, Lamont is quoted in the Daily Record as explaining:
“After the election, we learned to be hungry again. We rediscovered that drive that took us into politics in the first place. We have been honest about where we were failing. We are serious about getting good candidates into place and giving them confidence to do the job.
“The victories all over Scotland in May in the council elections – and the support we have received for staying in the UK – show that we have made progress. But I am determined that we continue to rebuild trust with Scotland in the hope that people once again ask us to serve them.”
She says she has enjoyed it so much as
“Maybe I was just born to argue with men!”
Pressed over her controversial speech in September in which she questioned the long term viability of a number of universal benefits, Lamont remains resolute in her belief Scotland needs to think long and hard about what it can afford, adding:
“The government don’t want to talk about the consequences of the choices they make. They pretend there aren’t any consequences. If you choose to spend £57 million a year on free prescriptions, you’re making other choices over here, which means less access to innovative drugs than anywhere else in the UK.
“Our leading cancer specialists will not get access to doing the research because we’re not prescribing the latest drugs, so we are losing cancer specialists.”
And what of the biggest question of them all, the referendum on whether Scotland should become an independent nation? Lamont declares that she is “struck” by the first minister’s inability to answer a number of “basic questions”.
“I’m struck by the fact that the man who entered politics 40 years ago to take Scotland out of the UK can’t answer basic questions. He isn’t able to say what is going to happen in Europe and his position on the currency is ludicrous.
“The idea that an independent Scotland – having separated assets and liabilities from the rest of the UK – would expect the rest of the UK to be a lender of last resort, and of course be kind to them, doesn’t make any sense.
“He gets himself into bother by asserting something as being the truth and further on it is unpicked.”
Lamont will mark her anniversary as leader today with a speech focused predominantly on education including, controversially, the future of the current system of free tuition fees at a time of “shrinking budgets”.