Thursday, November 12, 1998 Published at 17:54 GMT
Blair in union plea to Scotland
The prime minister has made an impassioned appeal to Scotland to turn its back on independence and stay in the UK.
By staying together, both Scotland and England would benefit, he argued, and Britain will have "lit a beacon" for constitutional reform around the world.
The prime minister told the audience at Glasgow's Strathclyde University that nationalists argue Scotland is diminished by its links with the rest of Britain. In fact, it was strengthened, he believed.
"I sometimes feel the nationalists must be virtually the only people who look wistfully back to the 1980s," he said. "Because then they can argue against the old centralised unreformed Britain, rather than the new Britain that's being forged today."
He denied the government's stance was the same as that of the Conservatives, who argued for the status quo, while Labour had delivered devolution.
'Spending on embassies' warning
What Labour favoured was a new partnership for the next century which made both England and Scotland stronger. Each was weaker apart, he insisted.
And stressing the National in the Health Service, he highlighted the £28bn over three years due to be spent in Scotland's hospitals and schools.
That sum could not be invested by nationalists, who, he said, would invest in new government instead.
"Scottish embassies coming before Scottish hospitals, Scottish consulates before Scottish clinics," he warned, condemning their view as a 19th century attitude.
It was the pooling of risks that made it possible for the stronger to help the weaker, Mr Blair argued.
"We gain from our inter-dependence," he said, stressing Labour's child economic reforms aimed at families, pensioners, the unemployed and disabled.
On economics, he said the bonds between Scottish and English economies would become stronger and provide stability.
"Let those who oppose us come and argue their case as to why they believe that that separation is better than what we offer today but let us also reflect on the opportunity we have," he said.
Some things - such as hospitals and schools - should be run locally and others - such as foreign, defence and economic policy - were better run centrally.
"If we are able to make that new constitutional settlement work, then I tell you we will have lit a beacon for the future, not just here in Scotland, not just in the United Kingdom, but thoughout the world," he told the audience.
Later, Mr Blair was due to address a fundraising gala for the Scottish Labour party.
He accused SNP leader Alex Salmond of dodging the real issues.
Mr Salmond denied his party was ducking the issue.
"What we are interest in is Scotland is having direct political representation as part of the European Union, that's independence in Europe.
"It's a very broad and inclusive concept and a very exciting one."
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