Today we decide. It is a momentous day, and whatever we think of the campaigns, or the importance of the question, we will choose Scotland’s constitutional future in these next few hours.
Inspired by a good friend who wrote quite a good list of his 10 top reasons for voting Yes, I thought the morning of the vote might be a good time to set out my top ten reasons for saying ‘No Thanks’. There are others, and I have the odd reservation. Indeed I want to see radical changes in the relationship between UK government and institutions and the nations and regions of the UK. But, on these points I am firm and my vote is cast.
1. I believe the world has too many borders, not too few. We need nations that are neighbours to work together, not escalate differences. For us to split up one of the few successful voluntary unions in the world would be the wrong direction in the 21st Century. We are not and never have been a colony.
2. I campaigned for, supported and led our autonomous Scottish Parliament because I believed it was right for Scotland. It was not a compromise. And it has made a real difference to our lives. With new powers it can go even further.
3. There have been mistakes in UK foreign policy, but again and again the UK is a force for good in the world. For democracy, human rights, development, conflict prevention and women’s empowerment, there is no more consistent voice among the major powers.
4. Scotland is not weak, but our economy will most likely be stronger, and our businesses are more likely to create jobs, if we are fully integrated into the wider UK market. And we have the safety net of the whole UK when things go wrong.
5. I do not want my family to have to choose between a Scottish and a Rest of UK passport. Emotional maybe but important to me.
6. I believe our artists and our sporting stars are more likely to flourish and succeed as part of a UK cultural and sporting network – with a strong Scottish identity, but the absolute freedom to share and compete on equal terms.
7. I know there are honourable exceptions, but there is an intolerance around Nationalism which runs counter to all my most basic beliefs. I believe in freedom of speech and I oppose the encouragement of an ‘us and them’ culture. Both have been under threat.
8. I like the fact that rich areas of the UK like the South East of England support universal provision by subsidising our universal post office, our energy networks, and other important social provisions. Coming from very rural Scottish roots, I appreciate these principles and their day to day impact.
9. In a world of ever changing and unexpected threats, I believe these islands are better protected together.
10. And ultimately, the independence on offer in this vote is not even independence. So, even if I was tempted by the freedom, the stated position on the pound and other issues that would leave us dependent on the remaining UK would make me think ‘is this really worth all that upheaval’?
Whatever you think of this, whatever your own choice, if you have a vote please use it today. I’ll respect the outcome and I hope you will too.