As we head into September we are facing the biggest vote in my lifetime. The Scottish Referendum.
As a northerner I believe we are Better Together. I am bound to say that I suppose, but I really do believe the UK is better together. I think that the bonds and shared history that hold us together rises above the endless facts and figures, many of which are directly contradicted by the other side, we hear being bandied about in the debate. I guess the ferocity of the debate shows one thing, that this vote matters.
I think Alex Salmond for his many, many talents, has failed to articulate a coherent case for why Scotland should be independent. He has failed to answer basic questions on currency and seems to have resorted to everything will be better with independence. The world will be easier and everything bad is London's fault. Even on devolved issues like the NHS, it is still England's fault.
Do I think that Scotland could go it alone? Yes, it could. Should it? No.
So I am doing what I can to make sure that we stay together, I will be contacting Scottish friends via email, facebook and calling them - I'll be talking to them and saying please think about your vote and vote no in the referendum.
In a speech I gave in Scotland, I tried to articulate why I think we are better together and why I think the UK is greater than the sum of its parts. I said:
"I envy you. I envy Scotland. I envy your values, your sense of community, of collective endeavour and basic decency. If you want to know my main, even selfish, reason for being utterly opposed to Scottish independence is because a Britain with your values is a warmer, compassionate and caring place to be."
I then went on to say to my Lib Dem audience why we as a party should oppose independence
"Your values have underpinned a radical tradition which gave birth to our party."
I do believe we have a shared culture and a shared history. I believe our victories, triumphs and disasters are not one nations alone, they are all of ours. We are a family, a family that rows on occasion but the bonds that tie us together mean that millions of men and women have fought and died together to protect the values and freedoms we all share.
So when I call my friends I will be asking them to reflect on that and vote to keep us together. I hope they will and we then can embark on the next chapter. Federalism is a journey, look at counties like Canada. We need to take a leaf out of our Canadian cousins and look at their model of flexible federalism. The asymmetrical nature of the country and political system, does have problems, granted, but it works.
My party does not want the status quo if we have a no vote. My friends and colleagues Alistair Carmichael, Ming Campbell and Willie Rennie have laid out a plan for Home Rule for Scotland. I hope with a no vote on the 18 September, we can deliver it.Suggest a correction