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Minister warns of 'credit crunch racism'

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy tells Labour conference in Dundee that recession is fault of bankers - not foreign workers.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has warned of the dangers of a rise in racism triggered by the recession.

Addressing the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee, Mr Murphy said the concern was shared by all mainstream political parties.

He said the current recession was the first in a global labour market, and the UN estimated there were now 176 million people living away from the country of their birth.

He also said that Scotland was "bigger" as part of the United Kingdom - and was "probably the most influential small nation on earth".

Mr Murphy said: "This crisis was not caused by a Polish plumber or a Bangladeshi shop worker.

"It was caused by irresponsible actions of international bankers, some of them very close to home.

"It is the irresponsible bankers, some of them on million-pound bonuses, not industrious migrant workers on the minimum wage who caused this financial calamity."

He added: "All of this creates additional pressure points that were not so prominent in previous recessions.

"While understanding people's fears and anxieties, no-one should ever pander to credit crunch racism.

"The way through this is about having fair immigration rules, strong border controls, and a tolerance towards those whom we welcomed to the UK in better economic times."

Mr Murphy's speech also included an attack on the SNP, and a claim that Labour was again on a winning track.

He said the party had put the 2007 Holyrood election defeat behind it.  The Scottish Secretary told activists: "After Glenrothes we have got that winning feeling again."

And he accused the SNP of a "fixation" on a referendum on the breaking up of Britain.

Mr Murphy said: "This is politics of no compromise with today's economic reality.

"The sound of the discordant drumbeat of the constitutional debate from the Scottish Government is out of tune with Scotland's mood.

"They are putting their party's obsession before Scotland's priorities.

"Scotland will never forgive those politicians who at this time put their narrow party interest before our country's."

Mr Murphy said the SNP's "paper-thin" arguments had in the past been protected as the Nationalists had "wrapped themselves in the folds of our flag".

Urging his party to reclaim the Saltire from the SNP, he said: "In the past we were too reticent about the symbols and emotion of patriotism.

"Occasionally we have let the SNP assert that patriotism and separatism were the same thing."

All parties in Scotland had the right to celebrate the Saltire as a symbol of their land, said Mr Murphy.

He added: "No political party should seek to claim that they alone have a monopoly on patriotism."

Mr Murphy said there was a patriotic case for the Union and Labour in Scotland should be proud to make it.

He said: "It is precisely because we love Scotland so much that we do not want to see it weakened by leaving the UK.

"Scotland is bigger because of the Union of the four nations of the UK.

"We are game-changing players in the UN, EU, Nato, the WTO and the G8.

"In truth, within the UK, Scotland is probably the most influential small nation on earth."

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