Scottish independence: ‘I am as British and European as Scottish’

 

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It is a very odd feeling, the possibility that a majority of my fellow Scots could vote to take away my British citizenship on 18 September.

I am unashamedly Scottish. But while I passionately support Scotland at Murrayfield, I have no difficulty in supporting England at the Oval or Europe in the Ryder Cup. I am as much British and European as I am Scottish.

I am proud of the United Kingdom, a country which created the welfare state and the NHS. Is the UK perfect? Of course not. But it is a model of parliamentary democracy envied and copied all over the world. It is a country based on the rule of law, human rights and freedom of expression. And a country to whose character and institutions Scotland and its people have made an invaluable contribution.

Ask yourself what Robin Cook, John Smith, Malcolm Rifkind, John Reid, Charles Kennedy, Donald Dewar, David Steel, Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling all had in common. None of them went to Eton, and none to Cambridge or Oxford. Home-grown Scots every one yes, but all of them became leaders of UK-wide political parties or holders of the highest offices of state. One became Prime Minister, another would have been but for his untimely and tragically early death. John Smith and Donald Dewar more than any other were responsible for the restoration of the Scottish Parliament, so movingly described by the former as the “settled will of the Scottish people”.

Those of us who oppose independence do so for practical as well as emotional reasons. There are too many questions to which proper answers have not been given.

Scotland can be independent. Many less fortunate countries are. But I do not wish to abandon the strength of a kingdom which has served all four of its constituent nations well and which remains a force for good. I want to live in a United Kingdom where Scotland goes on contributing economically, socially and politically, as it has since 1707.

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