Scottish independence: Final message from No camp

Why a No vote can bring change to Scotland, without taking a leap into the unknown

Better Together campaigners hit the streets in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

By the time you read this there is every chance you have already voted; either by postal vote or at the polling station.

For the last two years, whether you’ve been actively involved in the campaign or actively trying to avoid it, discussion over our constitutional future has dominated all of our lives.

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And after more than two years of campaigning, the day we make the most important political decision of our lives is finally here.

The only question to ask yourself before you go to the polling booth is do you know what will happen if Scotland decides to break away from the UK?

After all, the decision we make today doesn’t just affect our generation but future generations. They are the ones that will have to live longest with whatever the outcome of this referendum is.

The decision before us is a clear choice. It is between having the best of both worlds, a stronger Scottish Parliament with more powers guaranteed, backed up by the strength, security and stability of being part of the UK. With a No vote we can have faster, safer, better change for Scotland, without taking on all the risks of separation.

Or we can take a giant leap into the unknown with separation.

Despite having campaigned for separation their entire 80 years of existence, the Nationalists have been unable to answer some of the most basic questions they have been asked during this campaign.

As we vote today we still don’t know what currency would be in our pocket in a separate Scotland or what separation means for pensions and public services.

Alex Salmond can’t, or won’t, tell us what currency we would use in a separate Scotland. Walking away from the UK means walking away from the pound. That means higher cost of living with higher mortgage repayments, higher credit card and store card bills and more costly car loans for people in Scotland because we would start out as a separate state with no credit history.

In the case of pensions, people across Scotland are living longer. This means we will reach a stage where there is a bigger proportion of people of retirement age and less people of working age than elsewhere in the UK. By spreading the responsibility across an economy of more than 63 million people UK-wide, rather than just the five million people in Scotland, it is easier to support pensioners in the good times and the bad.

Most business leaders in Scotland also want to stay in the UK. That is simply because they know what is best for business, and what is best for jobs in Scotland. Scotland sells twice as much to the rest of the UK as it does to the rest of the world. Around 1,000,000 jobs in Scotland are linked directly to trade with the rest of the UK. Why would we want to put that at risk?

Our shipbuilders want to stay within the UK because they know the UK government will not commission ships in a foreign land. Our farmers want to stay within the UK because they know their biggest market is in England. Our manufacturers want to stay in the UK because anything getting in the way of trade, like borders and different tax regimes, is bad for them.

Alex Salmond has based his whole case for independence on the idea that he wanted to protect the NHS from cuts. All the while he has been planning almost half a billion pounds worth of cuts to the NHS immediately after the referendum.

He has lied to the Scottish people and he nearly got away with it. Imagine it is Friday morning, you had just voted Yes thinking you would protect the NHS and then you read that Alex Salmond has been hiding plans for massive cuts to the NHS. We already have full control over the NHS in Scotland. The threat to the NHS isn’t a No vote, it is Alex Salmond.

The impartial experts at the Institute for Fiscal Studies have shown that a separate Scotland would face £6 billion of public spending cuts above what is already happening. That figure is the equivalent of half our entire health budget. It puts at risk spending on our hospitals, schools and other public services.

Why take such a huge risk with our future, the future of our children and the future of our health service when faster, better, safer change is coming to Scotland within the UK?

We can have what most Scots want. More powers for Scotland without taking on all of the risks of independence. It’s the best of both worlds. We should vote No because we don’t have to be a separate nation to be a better nation.