If you can’t vote, shout: Scotland must be told it is wanted in the Union

 

As we enter the final month of the Scottish referendum campaign, the scale of what is at stake is striking home. Very soon, Scots will determine the future of the Union. It is a decision that will affect every citizen of these islands, yet power resides with a minority.

This reality was made clear by the televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling on Wednesday night. It was shown only on Scottish TV, and those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland could only sit idly by as the leaders of the independence and status quo sides slugged it out. To highlight the peripheral involvement of the rest of the UK, the live stream failed. The sense of powerlessness for non-Scots (and even for some Scots, since expatriates are disenfranchised) is strange and unsettling. It is as if there was a discussion about dismantling a wing of a house, which only certain occupants could contribute to.

It is right, of course, that only the Scots should be responsible for settling their fate, but nevertheless it is not easy to stomach for those outside Scotland who believe in the Union. In the coming weeks, it is imperative that the Better Together coalition fights hard – not just for those inside Scotland who want the United Kingdom to remain intact but for those south of the border as well.

Mr Darling put up a tough show this week, and deserves applause, but there can be no relenting between now and voting day on 18 September. Mr Salmond is likely to be wounded and may well come back stronger in his attacks. What is also imperative, though, is that we all join the struggle, that we do not leave it to campaigners in Scotland but shout the message loud and clear: we want Scotland to stay in the Union.

The more we can make the Scots, especially those who are wavering and undecided, feel wanted the better. This is a historic contest in which we can all play a part – albeit some more than others. We would feel very foolish indeed if we lost Scotland without mounting any resistance ourselves and having left the effort to a few brave-hearted souls in Scotland.

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