In less than a year’s time, people the length and breadth of Scotland will make a choice that will affect our nation’s future forever.
This is an absolutely defining moment and a once-in-a-lifetime choice – and that’s why I hope people will think carefully as they prepare for the vote.
I firmly believe that Scotland will be stronger, more secure and more prosperous if we remain as part of the UK.
Together the UK family of nations has pioneered state pensions, established a National Health Service and developed the most successful network of universities that Europe has ever known. We have been at the cutting edge of scientific research, at the forefront of global trade and at the sharp end of war where we stood – alone at times – in the fight against fascism.
I’m sure the year ahead will be both challenging and exciting as the arguments crystallise and people prepare to cast their vote. We are all privileged to be able to play a part in it.
More than 5,000 people from across the UK descended on Glasgow last week for the Liberal Democrats’ autumn conference.
Thousands of people – including many from the Borders, as well as politicians, business people and the UK’s media – gathered for lively policy debates, fringe events and bustling exhibitions.
I was proud to welcome so many people to Scotland and suggested to many delegates that they should visit the Borders on the way here. Glasgow was a fitting setting considering there is a year to go until the vote on Scottish independence.
Action on Hearing Loss
I used the conference to meet many charities that are important to people in the Borders, as well as me personally.
I had the privilege of talking with Delia Henry from Action on Hearing Loss Scotland which represents 850,000 people who are deaf or have hearing loss.
Her charity is trying to break through barriers faced by people who are deaf or have hearing loss in accessing services, employment and education opportunities.
We spoke specifically about how I can help promote more people to take lip-reading classes, so that people develop their skills in understanding lip patterns when others are speaking.
We also talked about the charity’s campaign to ensure shops, businesses and services have induction loops which make a huge difference to hearing-aid users because they reduce or even cut out background noise, helping the listener to hear sounds more clearly.