It will be the most important decision we will make in our lifetimes and our fellow citizens deserve a debate worthy of this momentous choice.
Our case will be this: 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 over the coming 500 days we will take our positive case for staying together to voters across Scotland – a positive case that celebrates not just what makes us distinctive but also celebrates what we share.
We love Scotland. But loving Scotland does not mean leaving the United Kingdom behind. Our case is that there is a much better choice for our future than separation.
Those who advocate a separate Scotland have had decades to think about the economic fundamentals yet they are still literally making it up as they go along.
This is no abstract debate. It’s about jobs, the currency, our pensions. And the survival of businesses.
But this debate will, and must, involve more than accountancy. It’s about what kind of nation we are, and what kind of nation we want to become.
It will involve deep and profound issues about who we are and what we believe.
We have never believed that to stand up for Scotland means we need to break up Britain.
Scotland and the rest of the UK may be rivals on the sports field, but by geography we are near neighbours. By history, we’re allies. By economics, we’re partners. And by fate and fortune we are colleagues, friends and family.
We have a shared heritage in which we can feel a deep sense of pride. Together, on these islands we fought the tide of fascism. We came together to build the welfare state and form a National Health Service. The United Kingdom, the oldest political union, embodies a quintessentially modern idea – that our diversity can be a strength and not a weakness. It’s a place where we share risks and rewards in a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multinational union.
So over the coming 500 days we will make our case: that we can have the best of both worlds, a strong Scottish Parliament and a key role in a strong and secure United Kingdom.
That Scotland’s future and our families’ future will be economically, politically, and socially stronger as a partner in the United Kingdom.
That this union of family, friends, ideas, institutions and identities makes us collectively stronger not weaker.
That we are Better Together.
• Douglas Alexander is shadow foreign secretary