With devolution we get the best of both worlds
With just over three weeks left of what has been a very long campaign, it is clear that many people throughout Rutherglen and Cambuslang are taking their decision on whether to vote to leave the UK very seriously.
A fair number of voters knew where they stood long before the referendum date was announced – nationalism is hardly a new feature of Scottish politics.
Others tell me and other campaigners on the doorstep that they have, over the last few weeks, made up their minds that they want Scotland to remain part of the UK.
But for some, their minds are yet to be made up.
It is not a surprise that folk are thinking long and hard about this – it is likely to be the biggest political decision any of us will make in our lifetimes. Unlike an election, this decision will have consequences far beyond the lifetime of a parliamentary term, and for generations to come.
What staying or leaving means for them, their families, their jobs and their pensions are not the selfish considerations they are sometimes portrayed as by those who are certain in their own views. Rather, they are the very real concerns and considerations that will inform final decisions. That is why those voters who are still to decide have questions they want answers to – and so far have little in the way of coherent or convincing responses from the SNP.
Bombastic rhetoric is the stock in trade for Alex Salmond, a style imitated by other SNP campaigners.
No amount of indignant shouting on currency, pensions, energy or anything else can deliver what the SNP are promising. That is because on all of those concerns, and many others, the Nationalist case is that everything (or all the things that people like about the UK) will stay just the same.
Except for those things to continue, then there would need to be a demonstrable mutual benefit both to the UK we had just left as well as to us in Scotland – a newly separate state of Scotland can’t deliver something which relies on the rest of the UK to be part of it.
The only way to guarantee a currency union is to vote to stay part of the UK. The only way to be sure that there will continue to be a single energy market – with the subsidies paid for green energy in Scotland being spread across all UK households – is to continue to be in the UK.
And the only way to guarantee that the pooling and sharing on pensions, is to vote to pool and share with the rest of the UK.
That is why the real choice isn’t about Scotland v London, as the Nationalist campaign present it.
It is a choice about two visions for Scotland. We can chose to go it alone, or be part of a bigger and better idea. Pooling and sharing risk and resources to get the best possible benefit for all of the citizens of the UK, with devolved powers not just in Scotland but elsewhere in the UK to take the decisions we chose.
Different parties may challenge policies, and change priorities if they are elected – but with devolution within the UK we get the best of both worlds. Sustaining what we know works well across the UK, not risking it all on the back of untested rhetoric.
Amongst the campaigning, the last few days has seen a welcome relief with a flurry of clips of people being covered in ice cold water. I thought I had got away without being nominated for the ice bucket challenge completed by James McAvoy, Alistair Darling, Nicola Sturgeon and thousands of others – until Rutherglen councillor Gerard Killen nominated me on Monday night.
So yesterday morning I had the unwelcome cold shower – nominating Fulham manager Felix Magath, who will have plenty of fans volunteering to help him meet the challenge after the appalling start to the season – for the good cause of helping raise awareness and fund support for Motor Neurone Disease.
You can donate by texting ICE145 to 70070, or better still – take part yourself.
Wet, wet, wet Tom Greatrex MP is soaked during the ice bucket challenge
Chilled out Tom Greatrex MP nominated Fulham FC boss Felix Magath after his ice bucket challenge