Referendum Comment: vote to build a better Scotland

editorial image

As the 18th September approaches, the referendum debate seems to have become increasingly contentious.

“No” posters along the M77 and the Southern Orbital are torn down, abuse is hurled over social media, politicians such as my colleague Jim Murphy MP are subject to unacceptable aggression.

Yet despite that worrying debasement of politics, there are still many issues we can agree on. Do we not all want to help make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous country?

A country where you have the chance to make the best of yourself, where if you work hard you can lead a happy, healthy, fulfilling life but in a country where we look out for and look after each other too.

A country where our children will get the best education possible and when they leave school, college or university, where the world is at their feet – where there are fewer barriers between us.

The crucial difference is that independence would threaten those opportunities whereas devolution within the UK makes them possible.

I want you to exercise control over the decisions that affect your life, over education, housing and health through the Scottish Parliament but over our shared economy, our shared pensions , our shared defence through the House of Commons. To my mind it is the best of both worlds.

The Nationalists argue that we can become a separate country but keep everything about the UK that we like, yet they cannot even say what currency we would use.

At first we were told we would keep the pound no matter what. Now we are being told that if we can’t keep it, we will blackmail the rest of the UK by not paying our share of the national debt. That does not fill me with confidence.

I am proud of Scotland and I am proud of the fact that much of what we have achieved has been because we are part of the United Kingdom not despite it: Working together with a Welshman to create our National Health Service, an Englishman to build the welfare state and a Scotsman to found the BBC.

We have stood together with our friends and neighbours through difficult times and I do not think it right or fair to try to blame them when some things go wrong.

I want your children to be able to go anywhere in the UK, as full citizens of the UK, to do business anywhere in the UK, to use the same money in the shops, to have not just the platform and advantages of being a Scot, but the platform and the advantages of the UK.

So let’s shape our future here in Scotland, let’s build a more ethical economy, let’s invest in transformational childcare, let’s be proud of the way we look after our elderly. None of that requires us to give up control of our currency or lose the advantages of a national health service.

So let’s keep the pound, keep the NHS and let’s keep the BBC. Let’s use our vote on September 18th to build a better Scotland. Let’s say no thanks to independence.