Union - Shared Resources and Responsibilities
For more than three hundred years, Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom. This union, initially undertaken for pragmatic reasons - access to markets, mutual security and stability - has since evolved extensively into the modern liberal democracy we see today.
Many of those pragmatic justifications for the UK have endured but they have been strengthened by the development of universal suffrage, our joint endeavour in creating a welfare state and, more recently, devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It was through the UK that the ideas of the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment spread around the world.
Better Together sets out the positive argument for a UK which works in partnership with the Scottish Parliament, where we get the best of both worlds: control over important decisions that matter to Scots, supported by the strength and stability of being part of the larger union.
We want to secure jobs and investment while sustaining Scottish influence not only within the UK but globally. That contrasts enormously with those who believe that we should withdraw not just from the UK but from our position of international influence.
Because the United Kingdom is not something which stands still: the last two decades have seen major constitutional change not only for Scotland but at a UK and European level too. Throughout this process, Scots have demonstrated that they want strong powers within a united country – a middle way between the status quo and separation.
All three major pro-devolution parties – Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – will have set out their platforms for more responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament as well as how they see power being further devolved to Scotland’s communities. These complement the ongoing process of devolution under the 2012 Scotland Act, which will see additional tax powers introduced from 2016.
At a basic level, the existence of the UK benefits all of us across these islands. We are a single market for goods and expertise without regulatory barriers to trade, employment or public services.
The rest of the UK is Scotland’s largest trade partner: we export to England, Wales and Northern Ireland twice what we do to the rest of the world combined. Scotland is – despite its relative size – still England’s second largest trading partner. Why should we want to put up barriers between us?
We also benefit from a strong voice globally – a voice that would be diminished for all of the UK if we were to go our separate ways. This is far from simply a matter of prestige: the UK’s international role helps us to protect Scottish businesses and exports – whether financial services, research or, of course, Scotch whisky - against burdensome regulation and export barriers.
We also use our international standing to uphold human rights and assist in conflict prevention, having for example successfully led international campaigns promoting education or ending the practice of rape as a weapon of war.
In addition, shared institutions serve Scotland well whether it’s UK Trade and Investment promoting Scottish businesses through a network of 169 offices around the world or the global reach of our consular and diplomatic network.
However Scotland also contributes to what we do together, for example as the powerhouse behind Britain’s renewable energy revolution, through our contribution to the UK's armed forces or even by providing the first British men’s winner of Wimbledon in 77 years.
Scotland has been an enduring success story but we are confident that our best years remain in front of us. Playing an active part in the UK provides a solid foundation for an outward-looking Scotland with a global role, a prospering economy and secure public services.
So here’s to another three hundred years of partnership in a United Kingdom that serves all of us, where we pool and share resources, risks and responsibilities for the common good and where we continue to work together for an even better future.