Michael Moore MP writes…Scotland’s Future – my personal view

The EildonsA week today we will take the most important political decision of our lives.

Across the Borders, in the privacy of the voting booth we will each face the question: should Scotland be an independent country?

It’s the moment of truth as we weigh up what’s best for our families, our communities and our country.

I am proud to be a Borderer; I am proud to be Scottish; and I am proud to be British. For me the answer is straightforward – I want to continue to be a part of this family of nations which we call the United Kingdom, so I will be voting ‘No’.

Looking around me I see families whose stories tell the tale of these great British Isles –  parents and children from all corners of the country; life stories of careers down south, up north and all parts in between; shared experiences with others across the UK in our armed forces, on the sports field or in the culture of Coronation Street and the Olympics.

I don’t have to look far to see people earning a living in our proud textile mills, our farms or tourist trade, working easily with customers and suppliers in all four nations of our country. I can see in our great health and other public services people drawn from all over Britain, working hard for local communities –  reaching across the border, when the need arises, as they do for us, too.

Rivalries exist, of course, but we thrive on the opportunities that being part of a country of 60 million people allow – whether selling coat hangers, fibre optic cable or high quality food. And when times are tough, those same 60 million stand alongside us in solidarity to keep things going, pay pensions on equal terms and support people back into work.

Visit Edinburgh and see our Scottish Parliament – all our valued public services, especially health, are under our control here in Scotland. They are shaped by our decisions and our needs, not by Whitehall or anyone else. What we teach our children, how we build our communities or keep our homes safe – all these and more are decided here in Scotland already. And in two years time we start deciding our taxes here, too, with other powers to be devolved before long as well.

Beyond these shores, we face a world grappling with new economic realities, political instability and threats from terrorist and others. With our neighbours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland we sit together at the top tables in Europe, the UN and NATO where the big decisions are weighed up and taken. Let’s celebrate and keep that influence.

All of this is in the mix on the 18th September. Of course, the UK is far from perfect – there is much we can and should change. But let’s do that together with our neighbours, rather than taking the irreversible step of going it alone.

Let’s be confident together and stick with the family of nations that is the United Kingdom.

 

* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

19 Comments

  • Spot on. I have yet to meet/speak to anyone who can give me a concrete example of something that they would be able to do as a resident of an independent Scotland that they will not be able to do as a resident of a Scotland within the UK but with all the powers that Holyrood will acquire.

  • Richard, as a voter in an independent Scotland you would be able to influence Scotland’s foreign policy.
    For example, when the vast majority of Scots oppose the invasion of another country ( eg Iraq 2003) the government of an independent Scotland would noy invade another country.
    Concrete enough for you?

  • Michael Moore writes —
    Visit Edinburgh and see our Scottish Parliament – all our valued public services, especially health, are under our control here in Scotland. They are shaped by our decisions and our needs, not by Whitehall or anyone else

    Not by anyone else? Really.??? Did the recent NATO summit not shape some decisions beyond the remit of the Scottish Parliament? Does the EU not have considerable sway in shaping decisions well beyond the scope of the existing Parliament in Edinburgh? Have I missed something or are you missing out a few inconvenient truths here?

  • @ John Tilley

    Sadly Scots voted for Iraq war.

    “the government of an independent Scotland would noy invade another country”.

    I make the vote of MPs for Scottish constituencies for the Iraq War: All of the Tory MPs (1) and the vast majority of the Labour MPs (39) a grand total of 40.

    I make the vote of MPs for Scottish constituencies against the Iraq War: All of the Lib Dem MPs (10), all of the SNP MPs (5) and a minority (17) of the Labour MPs – a grand total of 32.

    So sadly those MPs representing Scottish constituencies were, as a group, just as culpable in the Iraq War as those in the other nations in the United Kingdom.

    Regrettably the mere fact of representing a Scottish constituency does not, in itself, confer wisdom or even morality on the sitting MP.

  • Richard
    But that was the vote of the Westminster Parliament not the Parliament of an independent Scotland.
    You are making my point for me.
    Scotland did not have its own foreign policy in 2003.
    Labour voters in Scotland who opposed the invasion but had voted Labour for entirely different reasons cannot be counted as supporters of the invasion.

  • JohnTilley – I think like others you’re looking at things through a distorted lens.

    An MP/MEP elected by the Scottish electorate, is elected to represent them whether it is in Holyrood, Westminster or Brussels. The problem with the logic “But that was the vote of the Westminster Parliament not the Parliament of an independent Scotland.” is that it also applies to votes made by Scottish MEP’s sitting in Brussels…

  • jedibeeftrix 11th Sep '14 - 3:12pm

    @ John tilley – “Richard, as a voter in an independent Scotland you would be able to influence Scotland’s foreign policy.”

    What foreign policy?

  • @ John Tilley

    Scottish supporters of an illegal war

    I agree that it is not fair to blame Labour’s 2001 voters for the invasion of Iraq. The Labour party had failed to mention this policy in their 2001 manifesto. It was however the most significant event of the 2001-2005 Parliament. Only 2 of the 40 Scottish MPs who voted for the war were removed by their constituents in the 2005 election. This does not suggest that either future Scottish MPs will develop a strong fear of their constituents removing them for voting for illegal wars or that voters living in Scotland are exceptionally reliable at removing such MPs.

    [PS: In the constituency where I lived in 2005 we did remove the MP who voted for the war.]

  • @JohnTilley

    I’m curious to know what you, as a supporter of independence, anticipate the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK being like in the event of a “yes” vote?

  • I’ll declare an interest here – I have family who live in Scotland.

  • JUF
    I too have family in Scotland. My wife grew up in Glasgow and went to Edinburgh University. We are in regular contact with my mother in law who still lives in Pollokshields. Other family and friends in Strathaven, Stirling, Klmacolm, Stonehaven and St Andrews give me a fairly good spread of contacts across Scotland.
    In answer to your question it seems entirely likely that relations between people of the two independent countries will be entirely amicable just as they have been for the vast majority of people with family in Ireland during my 62 years despite the troubles and the various problems in some parts of Nothern Ireland.
    People in England havle family in Canada, Australia, Jamaica, various Afrcan countries, various Asian countries. Is anybody suggesting that the relationship between people in England and the people of now independent countries which were formerly ruled from London is any way a problem?

  • It seems strange, does it not, that if the union is such a terrible thing, the parts of Scotland that are least supportive of separation are those that abut England?

    If you go to Michael’s constituency and stand on the bridge at Coldstream, you will barely be aware that you are positioned on a border. The people on either side all speak English, they have very similar customs, and they earn their livings in much the same way. The accents are a bit different, as it the architecture and the age of the hedges, but that’s about it. Dig deeper, and you will find that very many people in Northumberland have Scottish surnames, and some of them play bagpipes. What possible justification is there for separation?

  • JohnTilley – Is anybody suggesting that the relationship between people in England and the people of now independent countries which were formerly ruled from London is any way a problem?

    I think you are making the wrong comparison and hence posing the wrong question as Scotland wasn’t part of the British empire, but has been an integral member of the ‘union’ that created the empire since the Union of the Crowns. So I would suggest that this referendum is more about Scotland deciding whether or not to leave the long-term relationship.

    As we know whilst some relationships can sail calmly through a separation/divorce, many do go through a rough phase and some never really come to terms with the new arrangements…

    I suggest that what happens after September 18, will largely be down to how subsequent negotiations (ie. terms of the separation/divorce) are conducted – I don’t expect them to be easy particularly given how emotive many people get over their Scottish identity and the supposed wrongs exercised on the Scots by the English ( I suspect that if the EU decides to play hard with Scotland’s membership that also will be another reason for people to rally against Westminster). Given you mention countries formerly ruled from London, I can’t help but be reminded about the partition of India, brought about by separatist political leaders who showed themselves to be unwilling and incapable of working within a larger union…

  • Roland
    I was answering a direct question from JUF.
    You have now built your own interpretation on what I wrote. If you are going to pick disaster followingbindependence after London rule I would suggest Israel. Constant aggression against the people of Palestine since 1947 makes India in 1947 look insignificant. But that was not JUF’s mquestion.

    Your point about a different status for Scotland from some colonies has some validity. But it is no different from Ireland which before the republic achieved independence had a similar status. For act of union Ireland see — http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acts_of_Union_1800

    The vast majority of people in the Republic and Northern Ireland have since the 1920s continued their relationship with family, friends and business links in England, Scotland and Wales much as they did before. All the dire warnings about an independent Scotland especially the exaggerated nonsense about currency have not apparently been a problem with Ireland. Nobody is suggesting that we go back to London rule for Ireland.

  • Sesenco

    Your point about people either side of the Scotland / England border could just as accurately be applied to the border between Canada and the USA.
    As you say — ” you will barely be aware that you are positioned on a border. The people on either side all speak English, they have very similar customs, and they earn their livings in much the same way. The accents are a bit differen…”

    Are you suggesting that the USA should not be independent and that they should be ruled by Ottawa? 🙂

  • JohnTilley
    Yes my points were poorly expressed and could come across as alarmist.

    My core point was that whilst we may be optimistic about the future relations between parts of the union, a lot is riding upon the spirit in which the negotiations following the referendum are conducted, by both Scotland and rUK. Whilst there is every possibility for these to be successfully concluded in a civilised manner, a concern has to be the level of emotion that has come to the fore in the independence debate, given that whilst the settlement may be fair, emotionally one or other party can still feel they lost out.

    To me looking at Ireland, India and others, it is clear that Scotland is a very different proposition, particularly as Scotland was a sovereign nation, that the ‘English’ hadn’t been able to occupy or exert control over until after the union (I’m unsure of my history as to whether the tipping point was after the union of the crowns or after the political union). However, both (Ireland and India) do serve as warnings as to how important it is to get and keep all the people on board. With Ireland, we ended up with the problem of the six counties. With India we ended up with partition…

    With respect to the border, I think how this is defined and maintained will have a major impact on the on-going relationship.

  • John Tilley wrote:

    “Are you suggesting that the USA should not be independent and that they should be ruled by Ottawa?”

    As Paddy Ashdown once said, you have to compare apples with apples, not apples with oranges.

    There has been a border between the USA and Canada almost as long as there has been European settlement there. It is a quirk of history. If the political boundaries of North America were to be redrawn from scratch, then obviously it would make sense for the USA and Canada to be one country.

    By contrast, Berwickshire and Northumberland have been part of the United Kingdom a lot longer than the USA and Canada have even existed. I doubt that many Canadians outside Alberta would want to be ruled from Washington, but that’s a testament to the political culture of the United States, not the inability of Canadians and Americans to understand each other and get along.

    However, the people of Berwickshire and the people of Northumberland see no reason why they should be separated by anything other than a river. Why should they? They speak the same language, they do the same jobs, they eat the same food, and they hold a very similar spread of opinions on most subjects. Except that on one side of the river they are fixed with the label, “Scottish”, and on the other side, “English”. Does it really matter?

    Let me give you another example. Kings Lynn sits across a river from Sutton Bridge. In Kings Lynn, people speak Norfolk, while in Sutton Bridge they speak East Midlands. The change is no more nor less noticeable than the one heard on crossing the bridge at Coldstream. Should Norfolk be governed separately from Lincolnshire? Should there be barbed wire and border guards on the Nene bridge?

    Perhaps someone could try to tell me what the objective justification for Scottish nationalism is. Some will offer up a mytho-poetic explanation. Others say it is a way of getting rid of the Tories. Others will insist that if you say good-bye to “Westminster”, sweet dew will fall. Nothing offered up passes muster. It is a jumble of sentimental nonsense and woolly thinking mixed in with a morass of anger and resentment that would be more constructively directed elsewhere.

  • I am reminded here of my Dutch working acquaintance who mentioned in passing that he often spent his Saturday morning shopping in Cologne, Germany, because it was a short journey and a convenient thing to do.

    If, in the event of a Yes win, we want the same kind of transparent border, it follows that we should make the following agreement:

    Scotland and rUK will both stay in the EU, unless both opt to leave. Rump UK should abandon the proposed referendum unless Scotland also agrees to hold one.

    Scotland will agree its immigration policy with rUK so that rUK can accept an open border.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJames Pugh 19th Nov - 8:11am
    Given rapidly rising costs of healthcare (advanced technology driven, higher wages, spiraling costs to mitigate risks) and advancing age (living longer with more independece limiting...
  • User AvatarFrank West 19th Nov - 8:03am
    How much of the seven billion a year will be absorbed by higher wages, esp as social care is only viable on minimum wages (scream,...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 19th Nov - 7:58am
    This so called ‘Commercial Landowner Levy’ will ‘cut taxes in 92% of local authorities’. Given the terrible state of local government finances and that many...
  • User AvatarFrank West 19th Nov - 7:28am
    UK High Streets are mostly very similar, with the same shops etc. Where I live a lot of the small shops are only there so...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 19th Nov - 7:13am
    Those who are claiming the LibDems are the victims of unfairness seem also to be assuming that the unfairness is imposed by the BBC and...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 19th Nov - 6:28am
    @ Joseph, The Rowntree foundation was established by a billionaire businessman and is currently run by an ex-Tory MP so we shouldn't consider them an...