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JOHN SMITH'S BEST; Chancellor backs McConnell in poll fight; Jack can fulfil our dreams, says Brown; Exclusive interview with the Daily Record.

Byline: PAUL SINCLAIR, Political Editor

JACK McConnell will fulfil the dreams of Labour greats John Smith and Donald Dewar if he wins today's election, according to Chancellor Gordon Brown.

The most senior Scot in British politics spoke exclusively to the Daily Record ahead of today's poll.

He said: "As Scotland looks to the future, it thinks of Jack McConnell and his administration and what it can achieve. But we are also remembering John Smith and Donald Dewar and the dream they had.

"In a sense, the people are voting today for the great achievement in establishing the parliament and for the great opportunities which lie ahead.

"Remembering what Donald Dewar and, before him, John Smith achieved for devolution, we now look forward to Jack McConnell and what he will achieve for Scotland."

It was Smith who persuaded his party to campaign for a Scottish Parliament, believing it was "unfinished business" after the failure of the 1979 referendum.

But it was Smith's great friend Dewar who actually achieved the setting up of a Scottish parliament in 1999.

Brown said: "I remember the excitement which Donald Dewar had in 1999 about the creation of the parliament.

"Donald, like John Smith and like me, all dreamt of devolution delivering for Scotland. We went through the dark days of the eighties when unemployment was very high and we shared a vision that one day Scotland would be able to develop its own priorities for social justice.

"Now it has been established, the next term is the exciting period when Scotland can move forward, creating a more just society."

Some voters are confused about how to use their two votes for the Scottish parliament and think the second one is a chance to vote for a different party from their first choice.

But Brown is adamant that if Labour supporters give their second vote to someone else, they will let opposition parties in.

Brown said: "You vote for your MSP with your first vote and the shape of your country with the second. Don't let others in the back door by voting for fringe candidates."

Brown has thrown his weight completely behind McConnell's campaign in this election and believes that Labour have won the arguments the length and breadth of the country.

He said: "There are more people in work than ever before - 53,000 more than a year ago. Long- term youth unemployment has reduced from its peak of 40,000 to 282.

"We're now in the next phase of devolution, able to build the Scotland which Donald Dewar always wanted to see and which Jack McConnell is planning to build. We have created the Parliament, we have the foundation of economic stability and job creation. We are now able to build even stronger for the future.

"When Jack and I met apprentices in Eastwood and Rosyth, we showed how Scotland is building an economic future based on high skills. We must not let the SNP put that economic stability and investment in skills at risk.

"In Dundee, I visited some of the most advanced factories in the world.

"Again, you see Scotland in a position building on the foundation of the Parliament and greater stability now to lead in some of the dynamic new industries in the future."

Brown and McConnell want to use the strength of the Scottish economy to pay for the public services which will bring about social justice.

The Chancellor said: "This dynamic economy we are trying to create will allow us to build an even fairer society helping children and also pensioners - making sure that every pensioner has dignity and security in retirement.

"The Scotland we want to see is one that is dynamic and fair, combining economic progress and social justice.

"One which is able to take care of its elderly and its young people, while at the same time giving huge opportunities to people both in work and people at college and university getting ready for work.

"Having established the parliament, now the parliament can work more effectively over the next four years with the greater resources that have been made available for social justice and economic progress in Scotland."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUS
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:694
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