[LibDem IndyRef speech] - "Why Better Together?"
At a rally in the Edinburgh South constituency - attended by all Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs currently serving, hosted by local Lib Dem MP Pramod Subbaraman - Liberal Democrat leader Graham Adiputera addressed the crowd as a final speech.
Thank you all for being here today. Thank you all so much for your dedication, for your hard work, for your efforts to ensure the people of Scotland have all the facts and know the truth about the agenda of the SNP. Thank you all for your campaign - which has emphasised that the strengths and accomplishments of the people of Scotland have been amplified and magnified by its place in the United Kingdom, that Scotland’s strength is the reason why the people of Scotland should choose to stay within the UK rather than go it alone.
This has been a difficult campaign. At times, divisive. At times, painful. And at times, the tone of the debate has not been ideal. But it has been hard fought and most activists on both sides of the debate have genuinely been acting on what they think is the best for Scotland, so as a democratic exercise, I think it deserves our praise. I think it has shown the people of Scotland at their best. And it has only strengthened the strong desire, shared not just by me but millions of people throughout the UK, that the Scottish people decide to stay within the UK.
The campaign has been called ‘Better Together’. Now, that invites a question. Why is Scotland better together? We have all heard the reasons why independence is a bad idea - why the SNP’s economic plan just isn’t sustainable, why separating from the UK jeopardises Scotland’s security infrastructure and place within the EU, why leaving the UK represents a tangible loss of opportunity for all involved. Now, that’s very important to discuss. It’s very important that people know the risks, that people know that the plan laid out by the SNP is pie in the sky thinking. But, we need to make a positive case too.
And that positive case is, to my mind, dependent on two basic facts. One is that the people of Scotland are among the most innovative, forward-thinking, influential peoples in the world. From TV to penicillin, from the Scottish enlightenment to Peter Pan, the Scottish people have had an outsized impact on global science, technology, politics and culture far beyond their numbers. The Scottish people do, I think, have the ingenuity to thrive and prosper in whatever scenario they pick.
But by being part of the United Kingdom, by using the opportunities and investment that that brings and the cultural exchange and cooperation that comes from being part of a union, the Scottish people can do so much more. The Scottish people can do well on their own, certainly, but as part of the union, a union in which Scottish people have again provided leadership on countless occasions, they can do so much more.
Secondly, Scotland is home to one of the world’s richest progressive traditions. Causes of liberalism, social democracy and internationalism have long thrived here. As we face challenges such as climate change - and the need to transition away from fossil fuel dependent economies, a need that the SNP plan neglects - and the need to promote and protect human rights and sustainable growth wherever and whenever it arises, it is always better that we act as partners. That we work together. That we cooperate.
Tackling these issues, both nationally and globally, will require a strong Scottish voice. And it is easier to take the necessary steps - such as fighting regional inequalities and holding multinational corporations to account - as part of a union, than it is going it alone. Look at some of the work in this government. Scottish MPs were invaluable in giving the vote to 16 and 17 year olds. In protecting immigrants and refugees. In investing billions in a greener and more equitable future. Going back, Scottish MPs were invaluable in leading the opposition to the war in Iraq, promoting valuable campaigns of human rights and equality, and leading our nation through the economic crisis.
I have long supported the right of self-determination. That is why I support - and most MPs in Westminster do support - putting more powers closer to home, in guaranteeing that decisions that affect Scotland are made in Scotland. But I do sincerely believe that the people of Scotland have more control over their destiny, more opportunities as both individuals and as communities, more chances to exhibit their talents and their values to the world, as part of the Union.
It is because, in summary, that I believe in the values and the ingenuity of the people of Scotland that I urge them to vote ‘no’.
I’ve said before that if the people of Scotland vote to leave, rather than to lead, I will feel a profound sense of loss. But if they vote no, I will be tremendously excited, that we can continue to work together, continue to craft a fairer world, continue to benefit from being the closest of neighbours. Millions of people, in Scotland and the UK, even those who share some of the concerns about Westminster politics that the SNP espouse, share those sentiments.
Thank you all!
Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Deputy Prime Minister
Secretary of State for Education and Employment
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology
Parliamentary - 20
Media - 41
Policy - 26