The last year has been tough for us all, the pandemic has separated us from our friends and family. Despite that, we have come together like never before. We can’t go back to the old arguments. We can build back better. Our focus must be a COVID Recovery Parliament.

The question of Independence will likely take centre stage during the Holyrood 2021 campaign (not of my choosing I may add), conveniently masking the failures of government, so what’s my view?

I’ve always said Scotland could be an independent country, and we would be had the result been different in 2014. However, my view is that we should not be an independent country, because I still believe it’s a bad idea. 

My message is clear and simple, “No” to another Independence referendum.

So here’s my thoughts:

Whether we like it or not, the second independence referendum campaign is already underway, in fact, the first campaign never really ended, but only one side is making the arguments. Just as in the last referendum, the pro-independence side wants to create a sense of inevitable momentum while avoiding hard questions about the economics of independence. Recent polling suggests there has been a rise in support for Independence, but bear this in mind, a void exists in the absence of a ‘No Campaign’. 

We need voices across the UK making the case for solidarity, and we shouldn’t wait for an official starting pistol to begin our campaign to keep our country together. It should happen now, and that case should be built on jobs, the economy and solidarity.

I supported devolution, and continue to support it, because in my view the Scottish parliament was formed so we could find Scottish solutions to Scottish issues. The problem now is that the SNP are using Holyrood as a campaigning tool for independence, when they should be focusing on finding solutions to the real problems that exists in Scotland today, such as our drug related death crisis, the worst drug related death record (per capita) in Europe and 3.5 times greater than that of England and Wales, who are all subject to the same legislation (Drugs Act 1971). There's no excuse for this continued failure, and behind these statistics are real people, individuals with families, who are dying prematurely.

 JOBS and the ECONOMY 
The SNP want to dismiss the costs of independence, but we know that economics is fundamentally linked to opportunities and life chances. 
A strong economy matters because it is the key to ending poverty.

The economic case for separation is no stronger now than it was in 2014. Since then, the SNP’s own Growth Commission has demonstrated the extent of the austerity that would have to be imposed by a Scottish Government in an Independent Scotland – and that was before the Coronavirus crisis added billions to the balance sheet. There is no certainty that an independent Scotland would be able to rejoin the EU and whether the terms would be as favourable as before. And with a smaller tax base, there are questions to be asked about what a Scottish social security and pensions system would look like.

A recent poll asked whether Scots thought a convincing argument to stay in the UK was that “in spite of current challenges, the different countries of the UK still have more in common than divides us”. 60% agreed. The people of Scotland think that we still have more in common with people in other parts of the UK.
That’s why our campaign for unity has to be a people’s campaign – not just a campaign of politicians. It needs to give voice to the people of Scotland who want to remain in the UK.

Let all our voices be heard and let us not repeat the mistakes of the EU referendum and realise too late what is at stake and what could be lost.

Let’s start making the case today.