The people of Scotland have a unique opportunity on September 18. We have the chance to take our future into our hands and create a better country for ourselves and for generations to come.
From renewables to life sciences, engineering to the creative industries, food and drink to tourism, we have the strong economic foundations to make sure that Scotland will flourish. We know from analysis by the Financial Times that Scotland is one of the top 20 wealthiest countries on Earth – wealthier per head than the UK, Italy or France.
For too many, though, it just doesn’t feel that way. Only a Yes vote gives the Scottish Parliament the powers it needs to make the most of this country’s vast wealth and resources, so that we all feel the benefit in our day-to-day lives.
Making our own decisions in Scotland works – with the limited powers of devolution, we’ve protected our NHS from privatisation, supported free education and put in place a child-poverty strategy. But crucial powers over the most important economic matters – taxation, investment and industrial strategy – are still held by distant and out-of-touch Westminster governments which are far more concerned with the City of London than Scotland’s economic needs.
With independence, we’ll have the job-creating powers that we need to create more opportunities for people in Scotland.
For example, an independent Scottish Government could provide VAT breaks for businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector to boost the industry and create more jobs, as has been successful in Ireland. We could also secure a better deal for Scots farmers, who receive some of the lowest levels of agricultural funding in Europe.
An independent Scotland would have been eligible for an extra €1billion in CAP support over the next six years. And with a Yes vote we can take important action like bringing Royal Mail back into public hands to safeguard service levels, and increasing free childcare to help young families.
These are just some of the powers that we need to make Scotland better and improve the lives of people north of the border – but a Yes vote is an opportunity for the north of England too.
A new economic powerhouse in Scotland can rebalance the UK economy away from London and move the centre of power and opportunity in these islands northwards. That means even stronger cross-border cooperation and opportunities than today.
The No campaign’s interests lie in making independence seem as difficult as possible. It pretends families will be torn apart, businesses will cease to trade and a new Hadrian’s Wall will be erected across the A1.
But other successful partnerships between independent countries demonstrate that this is just not the case. Just as people travel freely between the UK and Ireland, business links flourish between Denmark and Sweden, and close family and social ties prosper around the world. So too will Scotland and the rest of the UK continue to work together after a Yes vote.
Independence can deliver a new partnership of equals – one where Scotland has the powers to grow its economy and improve the lives of its people, while continuing and building on strong links with the rest of the UK.
That has to be the best future for Scotland – and for our neighbours south of the border too.