Ed Miliband forced to abandon walkabout in Edinburgh
Labour leader harangued by pro-Scottish independence protesters shouting abuse amid media crush.
Live blog: Tuesday’s developments on the Scottish referendum
Ed Miliband was forced to abandon a walkabout in Edinburgh after he became caught in a crush of media and pro-independence protesters, who drowned out his interviews with shouts of “fucking liar” and “serial murderer”.
The Labour leader became the latest politician to be abused and harangued as news of his unannounced visit to meet shop workers and voters at the St James shopping centre in central Edinburgh leaked in advance.
A small group of yes activists ran after reporters and TV crews who had gathered outside the centre as they were ushered inside to watch Miliband’s walkabout, leading to chaotic scenes.
The activists began shouting loudly, drowning him out, and adding to the crush of photographers, reporters and Labour activists who had gathered around Miliband, the Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, and Margaret Curran, Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary.
During one snatched interview audible over the shouts and chants, Miliband said he was in Edinburgh to argue for “more powers for a stronger Scotland as well as NHS funding guaranteed, and that’s got to be weighed up against the big risks of voting yes. And that’s the choice people are facing in the last couple of days of this referendum campaign.”
“I’m here to meet some voters,” he added.
Several attempts to meet shop workers had to be cut short amid the noise and crush, before Miliband was ushered out through a side exit, chased by a throng of news media and protesters.
Miliband’s aides said the Labour leader had chatted with shop staff and voters for about five minutes inside the shopping centre, posing with several women for selfies, before the media had been invited in.
He had been surrounded by Labour voters, wellwishers and shoppers eager for photos at previous shopping centres in west Edinburgh, Stirling and outside Glasgow. The party had chosen St James centre for the same reason; they are seen as dry, warm and controlled environments.
Miliband’s spokesman said he was not fazed by the disturbances or the crush of media. “It was a bit of a squeeze. We would have liked to have spoken to more actual voters,” he said.