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Stand Up and Be Counted and Say, for Scotland's Future, 'No'

17/09/2014 14:08 BST | Updated 30/12/2014 09:59 GMT
Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

This blog is an unedited version of the speech delivered by Gordon Brown at Wednesday's Better Together rally in Maryhill Community Central Hall, ahead of Scotland's referendum on independence

I want to tell the people of Scotland of that patriotic vision of the future of Scotland. Proud of our Scottish identity. Proud of our distinctive institutions. Proud of the Scottish Parliament we have created.

Proud, that with the powers we have given it and without the need of separation, the NHS in Scotland will always be in public hands, properly funded and free at the point of need forever or as long as the people of Scotland want it.

And proud we are increasing the powers of that Parliament - decided tomorrow with a 'No' vote, delivery the day after tomorrow - which will mean faster, better and safer change than the uncertainty and disruption offered by the Nationalists.

And we are proud also - and this too is our patriotic vision - that we Scots led in cooperation and sharing across the United Kingdom, from our common defence policy and our shared currency, to UK pensions and the UK minimum wage across four nations, with contributions on the basis of their ability to pay and to each according to their needs.

And contrast this patriotic vision with the Nationalist vision, which is to end all links with the UK, with the risks that entails.

And that is what this vote tomorrow is really about. Not about Scotland being a nation, we are a nation forever - yesterday, today and tomorrow. It's not about the Scottish Parliament, we have it and its powers are increasing, but whether - and this is the question - you want to break every last link with the UK and I say I don't want to end UK pensions, UK passports, the UK pound, the UK welfare state, the UK funded health service or the UK minimum wage.

So let us tell people of what we have done together. Tell them that we fought and won a war against fascism together. Tell them there is no war cemetery in Europe where Scots, English, Welsh and Northern Irish troops do not lay side-by-side. We fought together, suffered together, sacrificed together, mourned together and then celebrated together. And tell them that we not only won a war together - we built a peace together, we created the NHS together, we built a welfare state together.

We did all this without sacrificing within the union our identity, our culture, our tradition as Scots. Our Scottishness is not weaker, but stronger as a result. And what we created together, let no nationalist split asunder. And tell the undecided, the waverers and those to still make up their mind, being falsely told that you cannot be proudly Scottish and vote no, that this is our Scotland.

Tell them Scotland does not belong to the SNP. Tell them, Scotland does not belong to the 'Yes' campaign. That it doesn't belong to Mr Salmond or Mr Swinney or to me or any other politician. Tell them - Scotland belongs to all of us. And tell the Nationalists, it's not their flag, their culture, their country or their streets. Tell them it's everyone's flag, everyone's culture, everyone's country and everyone's streets. And tell them that our patriotic vision is bigger than nationalism; we want Scotland not leaving the UK, but leading the UK, and through leading the UK, leading in the world. And tell the undecided, the unsure, those thinking of voting yes today but who can be persuaded to vote no tomorrow.

Tell them that we who vote 'No' love Scotland. The Scotland of the Scottish Enlightenment and Scottish inventors; the Scotland that is the pioneer of the right to work and yes, the right to free health care; the Scotland that is author of the welfare state and international aid. And we achieved all this and far more not outside the Union, but inside the Union. Not in spite of the Union, but through the Union. And there is not one part of us that is lesser as a result. And so tell the undecided, the persuadable and those who were going to vote yes and now see some of the risks. Tell them of the risks.

Tell them of the seven deadly risks pushing us through an economic trapdoor from which there is no escape. A yes vote runs the risks of a disputed currency, debt default, having to immediately raise tens of billions of pounds for currency reserves, higher prices in the shops, higher mortgage rates, making one million jobs in sectors from defence to finance vulnerable and a fiscal black hole.

Before, it was the risk of the unknown. Now, it's the risk arising from the reality of the known. But the greatest risk to our health and public services is the one posed by independence. The biggest threat to the NHS is not the Union. With their secret plan for half a billion pounds of cuts, it is the SNP.

Let's tell the people of Scotland they are not saving the NHS but using the NHS to save the SNP. Let the people of Scotland be clear that the SNP don't wake up in the morning with a mission to save the NHS, they wake up with a mission to use it to create a separate state. And then tell the undecided, the unpersuaded, those who know the risks and those who think the SNP are progressive, tell them we have a vision for the future of Scotland. A vision that will bring a divided Scotland back together again. Not a Scotland when the eyes of the world are upon us is a Scotland of intimidation, threats, insults, abuse and recriminations.

I know the Scotland of Adam Smith and John Smith is better and bigger than this. A Scotland, yes, with a strong Scottish Parliament for fairness. And yes, strong for equality across the UK.

It is not for ourselves alone that we fight; we do not seek prosperity, security and strength for just us and no one else. Everywhere, at every time, at every level, including within the UK, our instinct, our desire, our demand, and our dream for social justice is not through separation, but for a world of social justice.

This is the dream that we can live for and will never die off. This is the great cause that is worth fighting for and will endure. For the real separation we want is not from England, but from poverty.

The real independence we want is not from our neighbours, but from inequality and deprivation. And the real freedom and liberation we want is not from one country, but freedom from injustice for every country, in every part of the world, now and for the decades to come. And what message would a Yes vote send to a world of discord, conflict and division, that the Scots who for centuries had championed cooperating across borders through a partnership of solidarity and sharing with the UK, had given up, stopped sharing and smashed partnership with others.

That the Scots had abandoned cooperation and turn their back on solidarity. That the country which had been a beacon to the world had become smaller, not bigger in the eyes of the world. Tell them the opposite is true. On Friday, if we wake to a 'No' vote, we will still be Scots, Scots yesterday, today and tomorrow, and the work of social justice will go on.

So tomorrow I will cast my vote not for me, but for my children, for all of Scotland's children and their future. And to those Nationalists who say this is our time and this is our moment yet know this vote is irreversible, I say this cannot be a vote just for our time. It cannot be a selfish vote, not even for one moment.

This is not a vote just for one time, this is a vote for all time. Because this vote cannot be undone or redone, this cannot be a vote just for us, this generation and this time. When there's no going back I have to take into account my children, our future and the century ahead. And so if you have any doubts about the future unresolved, any questions unanswered, any risks unexplained, if you don't know, then you have to vote 'No'.

But if you, like me, believe the way forward is not separation but justice through cooperation, then I say to you today:

Hold yourselves with dignity. Have confidence. Our values are the values of the people of Scotland. Have confidence. Our stronger Scottish Parliament meets the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people. Have confidence. Our future lies in cooperation and sharing, and not in separation and splitting apart. That unity is our strength. Have the confidence to stand up, be counted and say for Scotland's sake: not now, not this time, not the risks, no thanks.

Have confidence to stand up and be counted and say, for Scotland's future, 'No'."