The referendum campaign has now entered its final straight, with less than 100 days to go until Scotland decides whether it will remain in the United Kingdom.
As a North East Labour MSP and a director of the Better Together campaign, I believe in the sharing and pooling of resources across the United Kingdom and I’m voting no because I believe in fairness, social justice and equality, and do not believe that passion should stop at the border.
The Labour movement have delivered great things for people, not just in Scotland but across the United Kingdom, from the NHS to the minimum wage.
I see no sense in walking away from a political union with our friends, family, comrades and colleagues in the other home nations.
We achieve more when we work together.
I’m voting no because I believe staying in the United Kingdom is the best thing for our strong local economy which the SNP want to use to fund independence yet provide little detail on what tax regime would be in place for our oil and gas industry and how they would meet decommissioning costs.
Oil and gas tax receipts can be volatile, and as part of the larger United Kingdom we can absorb a reduction in tax take in years where the industry does not perform as well as expected.
However, it is clear that in an independent Scotland, where the Scottish Government would be reliant on taxes from the oil and gas industry, that there would have to be either a cut in public services or an increase in income tax if there was a decline in tax revenues from the North Sea.
For example, if the SNP’s sums on oil are wrong by only £400m rather than the £2bn that the Scottish Government wrote down in their own estimates from last year to this, then the entire budget for free personal care in Scotland would be wiped out at a stroke.
In Scotland we have the best of both worlds.
We have a strong Scottish Parliament making decisions on public services backed by the strength and the security of the United Kingdom.
We have our own education system, our own NHS, our own legal system, and more, but it makes sense for us to share things like pensions, welfare and defence across 60 million people rather than just five.
It means we can spread the risks and share the rewards working together across the family of nations to deliver a better future for us all.
We do not need to leave the UK to achieve it.
We can lead the UK in achieving it.