We now have only 20 days before we make the biggest ever decision for Scotland. It is not one that will have an impact only this year, or for the next five years, but one that will decide the futures of our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren and many generations to come. It is not a decision we should take lightly and it is not one that we can decide based on hopes and dreams alone.
I began tweeting a reason a day to say 'no thanks' to independence when we had 99 days to go. The reasons vary, from the benefits of the UK to jobs, our pensions, Scottish schools, the NHS and to our global influence.
Most people will have made up their minds already, and a majority know that while Scotland could go it alone, it shouldn't. We have so much to gain as part of the UK, and so much to lose as an independent country.
In my 99 reasons to say 'no thanks', I have been positive and explained how we benefit from being part of a bigger union that shares risks and resources. But the fact is, it is impossible to defend the status quo without asking how we would replace what we have already.
I would have thought that the SNP and Yes campaign would have all the answers - after all they have been dreaming of independence for decades. But the fact is, we are only 20 days away, and Scots still have no answer to some of the most fundamental questions: what currency would we use; how could we rely on North Sea oil to fund our schools and the NHS; how could we keep thousands of jobs on the Clyde without MoD contracts; how would we automatically be part of the EU; and if we were, how could we keep the excellent terms we have currently?
Shouty Salmond (based on his most recent performance) asks us to trust him and take a leap of faith, and yet he won't trust the Scottish public with the most basic of information.
Instead he shouts down any opposition. His response to the questions that we all deserve the answer to, is to call the questioner a bully. And this behaviour isn't limited to the First Minister. Thousands of cybernats are attempting to shut down intelligent debate with snide comments and insults. I have had my fair share, especially since beginning my 99 reasons, but I am a politician and have come to expect this kind of thing. But those proud to be both Scottish and British don't dare speak up for fear of vile personal attacks being directed at them.
This may seem like an aside to the crucial questions on independence. But this is a clear indication that the Yes campaign simply does not have the answers. Their campaign is based on hateful nationalism and a fairy-tale ending.
The No campaign is based on the hard facts. The UK Government has never commissioned warships outside of the UK. North Sea oil is volatile and a risky way to fund our public services. A currency union cannot benefit Scotland without a political union. Scotland has an ageing population and would struggle to tackle this demographic time bomb as an independent country.
On September 18th, I will be voting no to instability and an insular nation. I will be voting to remain proud to be British. I will be voting to stay an influential force in on the world stage. I will be voting to boost Scottish industry both in the UK and globally. I will be voting for our treasured institutions, such as the BBC and the National Lottery charitable fund. I will be voting for welfare that is available on the basis of need, not nationality. I will be voting for education and health policy decided by Scotland, for Scotland, but protected by a strong UK economy.
My vote will be thanks, but no thanks. The UK may not be perfect, but I would rather we continue living in a UK that truly is better together than cut ourselves off from the stability and security that makes Scotland great.
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