THE BLOG

Why I'm Voting No

17/09/2014 16:45 BST | Updated 17/11/2014 10:59 GMT

There are plenty of technical reasons to vote against separation on Thursday, and I have given 99 of them over the last 99 days, which you can read on my website. Whether it be to keep the pound; to stay in the EU; to have a stable, working benefits and pensions systems spread across 65million people; to be backed up by the UK economy, not volatile oil; or any number of reasons, there are plenty of reasons why being part of the UK is better for Scotland.

We have spent two years arguing these cases and asking the questions that Scottish people deserve the answer to. But the SNP have twisted these legitimate questions, claiming we are running a negative campaign. It is hard to avoid these issues though when we have a 'Yes' campaign running on half-truths and lies.

Just look at their claims that Scotland's NHS is at risk under a 'no' vote. The NHS is entirely devolved and the only threat to it is further privatisation by the SNP. That was sinister and dirty campaigning, exactly what we have come to expect from the 'Yes' side.

But let's just play along for a second, say that there weren't hundreds of concerns and questions about what an independent Scotland would look like in the UK.

Why would I continue to say 'no thanks' on Thursday?

The UK is a strong and influential nation, and the respect our country receives from abroad cannot be overstated. Brits go abroad and are held with high regard. Everybody knows about the UK, and Scotland, and they want to be a part of it. They watch our TV and our films. They learn English. They love the Queen, our history, our heritage, our countryside, our culture.

They love and respect the diversity of our nation; from Land's End to John O'Groats, every corner of the UK has its own vibrant culture. Scotland is not alone in this, but we certainly punch above our weight in it.

Our influence abroad serves us well in international politics and economics. We are a strong nation. Whatever government we have, we have stability, because of our influence in international markets.

We are a strong democratic nation. As a proud Labour MP, I have not always liked the government we have had. Thatcher was particularly cruel, and her policies were disastrous not only for Scots, but the working class across the UK. And like 65% of Scots, I did not vote for the SNP, but have had to accept some of the terrible policies they have brought through, including privatisation of the NHS in Scotland. But I respect democracy and the will of the people. And I think it is a good thing, because as politicians we continuously have to work to gain the trust of our voters. It is this ideal that the UK is proud to champion both at home and abroad.

A no vote does not mean no change. Of course, we have challenges in Scotland that need to be tackled here in Scotland. And Gordon Brown recently announced the timeline for further devolution, a promise that was made months ago, but a promise that will be in place long before any prospect of independence would be. It would give us the chance to build on the benefits we enjoy today of having a strong Scottish Parliament, deciding what matters to us, with a strong UK to back it up. We truly have the best of both worlds.

On the eve of the most important vote of our lives, I ask you not to vote 'yes' as a vote against unemployment, as a vote against the Tories, as a vote against some politicians that may have let you down. All these things would still exist in an independent Scotland, all the more so in an independent Scotland with Alex Salmond as first minister.

Vote 'no' for your future, and the future of your children, your grandchildren. Vote 'no' in solidarity with your friends and family across the UK. Vote 'no' to live in a safe, stable and prosperous nation. Vote 'no' to have the best of both worlds. And vote 'no' to be proud to be Scottish and proud to be British. Make the patriotic decision, and say 'thanks, but no thanks'.