Menzies Campbell: Federalism in touching distance

Sir Menzies Campbell. Picture: PA
Sir Menzies Campbell. Picture: PA
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WE ARE now three short days away from facing the biggest decision of our lifetime. The iron man equivalent of political campaigns is drawing nearer towards the finishing line.

The choice is clear. People can either vote to leave the UK, with all the risks and uncertainties that independence offers. Or they can vote for a stronger and safer Scottish Parliament within the UK.

Over the past two years the focus of our debate has rightly been on Alex Salmond’s independence prospectus. But running alongside this has been a reinvigorated debate on constitutional change across the UK. I am delighted that the drive for radical change is no longer the prerogative of the Liberal Democrats.

Who would have thought two years ago that politicians and civic groups across the United Kingdom would have so vocally debated, let alone whisper, the need for a fully federal UK? Whilst Liberal Democrats were first out the blocks with our plans for radical change, others have followed in quick succession.

IPPR, STUC, former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Murdo Fraser of the Scottish Conservatives, the Financial Times, Prospect magazine, and others have given varying nods towards federalism as being the best future for Scotland and the UK overall. We can safely say that we have spurred our partners within our family of nations to look at reform with fresh eyes.

First, it is clear that more powers for Scotland are guaranteed. Our delivery plan will guarantee change swiftly after a No vote, with draft legislation as quickly as Burns Night 2015. This is a guarantee of common endeavour and consensus - the same spirit which secured the Scottish parliament.

Second, the loosening grip of Westminster is already leading to radical change in all parts of the United Kingdom and the many cities which have seen more power handed back to them through the UK government’s city deals. So we can see that there is a growing UK wide thirst for change.

I believe that the United Kingdom is best served by continuing a partnership which has served us well; by recognising that constitutional reform is necessary to ensure that the structures of the United Kingdom reflect the aspirations of its people and the demands of a modern democracy. I have always said that Scotland does not need to wait to begin a federal relationship with the UK. Scotland can be the key to the door of political reform for the whole of Great Britain.

We will not need to wait long before we can see a modern federal United Kingdom.

Federalism is within touching distance. Let us not walk away from a golden opportunity. Vote No for better and federal change for Scotland and the UK.

• Sir Menzies Campbell is MP for North East Fife and former leader of the Liberal Democrats