Remaining as part of the UK gives Scotland the best of both worlds, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said today.
With a little over a year to go until voters go to the polls in the independence referendum, Mr Moore was addressing an audience at Glasgow University at an event organised by the Institute for Public Policy Research.
In just over 12 months’ time we will be asked to make the most important collective decision ever.
Here in Scotland, together, we will choose between remaining part of the United Kingdom or leaving and going it alone. A fundamental choice.
The outcome will be either an irreversible step to a new state or the continued development of our relationship with the rest of the UK family. It is important for us all to realise the significance of this choice.
Best of both worlds
As a government, over the past few months we have set out evidence that supports our case that here in Scotland we have the best of both worlds within the United Kingdom.
Over the summer we’ve seen Scottish Government Ministers trying out a new sales pitch.
The team who once argued that we should be “Free by 93” now campaign for “an interdependent United Kingdom of five unions”.
Over the next year I will continue to make the case for Scotland in the UK. I will continue to call out the inconsistencies in the nationalist story.
And they will continue to accuse me – and anyone who poses fair questions – of negativity. This is their well-trodden approach, and it is one paved with irony.
After all, what could be more negative than the claim that Scotland’s interests can only be met by leaving the family of nations in which it has thrived and prospered?
Benefits of devolution
Devolution within the United Kingdom has given us a strong Scottish Parliament and a strong voice in the UK Parliament too.
But it is not a static settlement. It is evolving and improving. As Secretary of State for Scotland I was proud to take the Scotland Act through the UK Parliament last year.
The Act amounts to the largest transfer of financial powers from London to Scotland since the creation of the UK. It includes new borrowing powers and, from 2016, a separate rate of Scottish income tax too.
Those of us who support Scotland’s place in the UK family share something fundamental. We value the things that United Kingdom brings to Scotland.
Greater opportunities; stronger security and an unrivalled platform on the world stage. These are worth keeping.
Of course, as a government, our vision for Scotland is about more than constitutional change.
It’s about the direction in which our country can go, evolve and thrive to the benefit of each and every citizen.
A rebalanced economy that creates quality jobs and pays for quality public services too.
A fairer society in which the tax burden is eased on lower earners and those striving to get on get the help they need to do so.
A partnership of nations at home and abroad that has the capacity to promote the peace and security that every human is entitled to.
Within the UK, we can achieve these things for Scotland.