Tommy McAvoy on the fight to keep Scotland as part of the Union
The referendum on Scottish independence is less than three months away. Whether it results in a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote, it is a huge decision and one that will shape the fortunes of the rest of the United Kingdom for years to come. Things will certainly not remain the same.
The people of Scotland have a legitimate interest in the state of the Union and their share in it. Many may also genuinely believe it best to strike out on their own – something I have no doubt they are perfectly capable of doing. But it is for our Party to show them that we are stronger when we are united with the rest of the peoples of the UK, as we have been in the past. And to show them that we can achieve far more together than we ever could apart.
The debate is warming up. People from all parts of Scottish society are starting to get involved – from already highly politicised individuals to even those people who would tend to have a disinterested view about politics, and across all demographics. The engagement on the ground is startling, no doubt down to the tireless work of so many volunteers throughout the country bringing the issue to the doorsteps.
In my own area of Rutherglen, we have been heavily involved in mass canvassing, posting leaflets and knocking on doors, ready and willing to listen to people’s concerns. In truth, many want definite answers, something the SNP are unable to provide but something we are armed with. People want an honest discussion of the facts we face. They can see through the SNP’s false promises of a utopian paradise – a land of milk and honey which will, somehow, inevitably arise from independence. The SNP need to be exposed.
This is not a case of being negative but merely dealing with the realities of today’s world, something the SNP are unwilling to do. We can guarantee the safety and security of the UK as well as addressing the concerns of the Scottish electorate, who may not want to dismember the Union but want more control over their own affairs. Through Labour’s current devolution proposals, we will strengthen Scotland’s part in the UK whilst simultaneously strengthening the Union.
Of course, the need for Scottish people to reject independence goes further than just a fear of the unknown. There are many genuine and honest reasons why the four nations of the UK are much stronger when united in solidarity as part of a social, political and economic union. The ties that bind run deep.
We have come through much together, through times of struggle and hardship which have presented themselves to each generation, including World Wars and global recessions. But each time when faced with such challenges the people of the UK stood united and stood their ground. Now in these times of economic hardship and an unsettled world, we should look to the examples of those who went before us, how they overcame what they faced, and what they then went on to achieve together.
Lord Tommy McAvoy is Shadow Minister for Scotland in the House of Lords
Published 24th June 2014