THE BLOG

A Positive No

08/09/2014 11:13 BST | Updated 05/11/2014 10:59 GMT

At the heart of the Yes campaign is a simple and admirable goal; to build a better Scotland for Scots living now and for those in generations to come. In fact, this goal is more than admirable. It is desirable, enviable, humane, generous and, above all, hopeful.

This is the positive side of the Yes campaign, a world away from trashing posters and accusing No campaigners of being 'traitors' and 'quislings'. It is a position that anyone with a heart can relate to and agree with.

This notion of creating a better nation has been somewhat obscured (if not completely lost) in the mire of the last few months of the campaign. On both sides, bloggers (I must confess, myself included), commentators and politicians have focused more on the details and the arguments of the campaign than the fundamental ideas of statehood and their implications.

Questions of currency, defence, finance and oil have dominated discussions yet, important though these issues are, none are defining factors.

The Yes campaign is keen on reminding those who disparage the SNP that 'it is not all about Alex Salmond'. That actually, alongside the SNP there is a vibrant and buzzing grassroots movement who are politically articulate and enthused with the notion of Scottish self-determination.

On this point the Yes campaign are completely correct.

I would move that if Better Together do not recognise that (quite justified) attacks on SNP policy will only get so far then it is possible that the union will be lost.

What supporters of the union need more of is hope and passion.

Do not get me wrong, there is an awful lot of hope and passion for the United Kingdom explored at length and articulated brilliantly by many campaigners. Adam Tomkins' articles on his excellent Notes from Northern Britain blog are particularly lucid, engaging and heartfelt.

However we need more because we have to correct a popular impression: that people vote yes for hope, a sort of 'yes we can', the kind of hope that swept Obama to power in 2008 while, on the other hand, people vote no because they are scared of the (huge) risks of independence. In actual fact, most people voting no are doing so 'positively'.

To return to an earlier point, the Yes campaign are rightly vociferous about reminding Better Together that this vote is not all about Alex Salmond and the SNP. I extend to them what I feel is a similarly fair request: to accept that the vote on September 18th is not all about 'the Tories', 'the Westminster elite' or, sometimes said with just a hint of menace, 'London.'

I believe that a no vote can be a vote for hope in just the same way a yes vote can be. The only difference is that a no vote says that a better society, a better nation and a better future should and can be built for everyone not just in Scotland but in Wales, Northern Ireland and England too. This idea is as exciting, ambitious and hopeful as anything the Yes campaign can come up with. Indeed, I would say more so. We must restate this as often as possible: a no vote is a positive!

Voting no is not accepting the status quo, it is a belief that a better future for Scotland exists as part of a family of nations. In the United Kingdom resources and revenues are pooled for the benefit of everyone. Oil revenues in the North Sea and tax receipts from London's largest companies reach as far as Skye and Belfast. This fundamental principle of our union seems to me to be a beneficial thing for us all, wherever in the United Kingdom we live.

This is not a party political or economic argument, but an idea founded on the absolute belief in social justice for everyone, from Shetland to Land's End. Fundamentally, our political union undergirds our social union. Cut us apart politically and our social threads will begin to fray, separation would shrink all of our horizons.

I am not trying to argue that the United Kingdom is perfect, far from it. However, the vote on the 18th September is more important than political parties, economic arguments or family interests. In the end, it is a vote about the future.

A no vote means we create this future together.