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Launch of the Better Together campaign

Alistair Darling’s speech at the launch of the Better Together campaign

I care deeply about the future of my country. This is my home. Its history, its rich culture, its social ties, are mine: they made me. And I want a Scotland of the future to offer generations to come the chance to shape not only their own country, but to to look outwards, to help improve the wider world in which they
live.

Alistair Darling’s speech at the launch of the Better Together campaign

When Scotland votes in the referendum, we will face an historic choice which
will shape our country and our families’ future not just for the lifespan of a
Parliament but for generations to come.
Chairing this campaign is one of the most important things I have ever done in
politics. The decision we make is the most important we will make in our
lifetime.
Those of us who believe that it is best for Scotland to be part of the UK – from
whatever political views – have a duty now to work in harmony to argue for the
better, stronger choice.
This is a campaign that will make sure that the patriotism of the quiet majority
will be heard alongside the voices of the committed few. We share a common
platform on this single issue because, along with so many of our fellow Scots,
we believe that a better future for ourselves and our children is as a partner in
the United Kingdom.
We are Better Together. Let me tell you why I decided to join this campaign,
what moved me to return to the frontline.
I care deeply about the future of my country. This is my home. Its history, its
rich culture, its social ties, are mine: they made me. And I want a Scotland of
the future to offer generations to come the chance to shape not only their own
country, but to to look outwards, to help improve the wider world in which they
live.

I believe we will do that best as part of a strong United Kingdom. The
Scotland I want to live in, the Scotland I want our children and their children to
live in, is an open, ambitious, confident country.
A country that shares with its friends and neighbours a modern, positive view
of its identity, hewn from a rich history. It has wide horizons. It looks to the 3
future with a strong, clear gaze. Our case is not that Scotland cannot survive
as a separate state. Of course it could. This is about what unites us, not about
what divides us.
One of the greatest things about Scotland is our sense of community – our
belief in sharing what we have and of standing shoulder to shoulder in good
times and in bad. For generations strong women have shown how working
together has kept communities alive. I believe standing together with our
neighbours is a positive good.
That’s why I welcome this referendum. It is a chance to re-affirm Scottish
values and our expression of them in our partnership with our neighbours. I
believe we can cement Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom once and for
all and then get on with building the Scotland we want and deserve.
There are two sides to this debate and two sides to this story. All the pride
and passion are not on one side alone. So hear me when I say this: those of
us gathered here today for this campaign, we love Scotland. But loving
Scotland does not mean leaving the United Kingdom behind.
We are ambitious for Scotland’s people and know Scotland’s potential. Our
case is that there is a much better choice for our future than separation.


Here is where we stand. We have a Scottish Parliament with real decision
making powers and a key role in a strong and secure United Kingdom: the
best of both worlds. So we make a positive case for staying together. A
positive case that celebrates not just what makes us distinctive but also
celebrates what we share.
Let’s recognise the significance of what lies ahead of us. This referendum
challenges all of us in Scotland to answer some deep questions, not just
about what we believe but about who we are. 4
We put the positive case for staying together. We are positive about our links
with the rest of the United Kingdom – through families and friendships, through
trade, and through shared political, economical and cultural institutions.
We’re positive about being a proud nation within a larger state and the far
wider range of opportunities for our people that this creates. We’re positive
about all of the identities that we share – Scottish, British, European, citizens
of the world – and don’t see the need to abandon any of them.
We are part of a social union, underpinned by an economic and political
union. All parts mesh together. Friends, neighbours, families – across borders
– share ties that bind us together. What does this mean for us?
It means that after centuries of common endeavour, we should value those
ties that bind us together and celebrate the diversity that exists around us. It is
artificial to create separate states within our small island.
We have achieved so much together, in times of peace and war. We created
and then dismantled an empire together. We fought fascism together. We
built the Welfare State together. The BBC and the Bank of England were
founded by Scots. The NHS was founded by a Welshman. The welfare state
was founded by an Englishman. And we would not have achieved half as
much if we had not been a United Kingdom, advancing together.

But the case we make today and in the months ahead will be what is best for
Scotland’s future. We are being asked to make this choice in the midst of the
most uncertain and turbulent economic times we’ve seen in our lifetimes. This
is a really important part of our argument. It is a big and difficult world and
independence is an inadequate response. But is has to be about more than
economics. 5
We are a nation of change makers and influence. It is in our DNA, in our
history and future. We have a country with more to achieve and a world to
change. Look around the globe at the challenges all nations face.
A world where more than seven million children under the age of five die
needlessly- many from preventable diseases. A world where the threats of
climate change challenge every one of us and our children’s future. And a
world where the gap between rich and poor countries keeps on growing.
These are the big challenges that we – as a strong partner in the UK – can
influence.
The world has never been this close or complicated. Nor changed at this pace
before. Think of all the big questions the world is challenged by and then
think – think really hard – about which of these questions is Scottish
independence the answer. In a world of complicated, difficult questions,
Scotland is being offered a simple slogan.
Times are really tough at home. And really uncertain, especially in Europe
where all the problems of a currency union are laid bare. We need more
growth, more jobs and a more prosperous Scotland.


These are the issues that Scotland should be focusing on. The last things we
need are the new areas of uncertainty, instability and division that separation
will involve. The choice we make will be irrevocable. If we decide to leave the
United Kingdom there is no way back. We can’t give our children a one-way
ticket to a deeply uncertain destination.
And as Scots who do not want to be sold short, we are also entitled to ask
questions of the Nationalists who want to establish a separate state, outside
the United Kingdom. What have we learned in the past month about the SNP
and their plans? It is that they have wasted almost eighty years: a party that
was formed in the 1930s to achieve independence has not even done its
basic homework about what independence would mean. 6
They’re not even tough questions. The most basic inquiries expose a basic
truth. It is a gamble – a gamble with your jobs, your businesses, your savings.
No-one advocating change as fundamental as this should be afraid of basic
questions. And they have a duty to answer them. What are the risks? What
are the costs? And ultimately, what is the justification for such division and
upheaval?
Those who advocate a separate Scotland have had decades to think about
the economic fundamentals yet, in the face of challenge, they are still-literallymaking it up as they go along. They talk about a currency union with what’s
left of the UK – but haven’t thought to ask whether or why anyone else would
want this.
This is no abstract debate. It’s about jobs. And pensions. And the Welfare
State. And the survival of businesses. It is about how to shape our lives.
We trade more with England than we do with all other countries in the world
combined. The UK is the world’s oldest and most successful single market.
Why would we want to turn our biggest market into our biggest competitor?
Everyone else in Europe has worked for 50 years to create bigger markets
without borders for their goods and services. Are we really going to erect a
brand new border, not just within Europe but within this small island?
In the United Kingdom, we share opportunities and we also share risks. Four
years ago Scotland’s banks were on the brink of collapse. The size and
strength of the UK meant that we could stop that and also that Scottish
taxpayers carried only a small part of the cost. Ireland and Iceland were not
so fortunate.
Sometimes it works the other way round. That’s what being partners means.
That’s what a United Kingdom is about. Proud nations within a larger state
offer the best of both worlds. 7
How will Scotland get its way in the world if we leave the UK? The United
Kingdom is a country with unique influence – in the EU, in the Commonwealth
and in the G20 group of the world’s most powerful economies.
Will it help the world’s poorest people if we walk out of the UK – the second
largest donor of aid? We in the UK are one of only five countries of 198 in the
world with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Why would we want
to give away this deep influence?

Scots are not passive people. We helped shape the world – some of the
greatest inventions in history were made by Scots whose vision saw far
beyond a border.
And in an uncertain world, Scotland’s security will be strengthened as part of
the United Kingdom. The British Armed Forces that protect us are the best in
the world. In Scotland we are proud of our forces and proud of the vital
contribution our country makes to them. And Scotland benefits from that
contribution. As it does from jobs in other UK wide institutions.
As part of the UK, we have real clout in the UN Security Council, NATO, the
IMF and the EU. And we have embassies around the world serving our
citizens and our businesses. Scotland is far better represented abroad as part
of the UK than it could ever hope to be as a separate state.
As Scots, we believe there is nowhere better. But we understand there is
something bigger. By contributing to – and benefitting from – the multi-national
multi-ethnic and multi-cultural United Kingdom of the years ahead, Scotland’s
society and culture will be enriched. Our case is that, on every test, there are
more positive gains from staying together.
We believe that the idea of coming together – of inter-dependence – is not
simply a reason to feel pride in a shared past. It is make your mind up time for 8
us in Scotland. Our campaign runs across party and political borders. So,
even if you’ve never joined a political party before, it doesn’t matter. Come
and join our cause.
If you’ve never campaigned on anything before this, nothing has ever
mattered as much as this. Come and get involved.
If you’ve never even voted in an election, get registered to vote now. This isn’t
about voting in a government for a few years. It is about making history.
The truth is we can have the best of both worlds: a strong Scottish Parliament
and a key role in a strong and secure United Kingdom.
The truth is Scotland’s future, our future and our families’ future will be
economically, politically, and socially stronger as a partner in the United
Kingdom.
The truth is that this coming together of family, friends, ideas, institutions and
identities is a strength, not a weakness. It is an ideal worth celebrating.
So, as proud Scots who want a better future for Scotland, let’s be confident in
saying: Yes, we are Better Together.

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Comments

  1. Reblogged this on watchoot and commented:
    Interesting speech, worth reading.

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