I GUESS it goes with the territory in my line of work, but whenever I’m in Edinburgh, at a function, in the back of a cab or chatting to folk in the pub, the referendum always comes up in conversation. And people keep asking me one thing – where can they get the information they need before they make up their minds about the biggest decision Scottish voters like you and me have had to make in centuries – whether to remain part of the UK, or choose separation.
Well, help is at hand.
From today, a booklet entitled What Staying in the United Kingdom means for Scotland will be dropping through the letterboxes of every household in Scotland.
It’s a major undertaking from the UK government. We’re sending it out to more than two million addresses, so no voter needs to feel they’ve been left in the dark about what’s at stake. What it’s not there to do is tell you which way to vote – that’s down to you. What it will do is give you the facts and figures you need to help you make your choice.
We’ve boiled down more than 1,000 pages of analysis carried out by impartial civil servants down to just 16. It’s handy, accessible and contains the key facts which I believe will be vital when you weigh up the pros and cons of a Yes or a No vote.
Whether you want to know more about the currency issue, pensions, institutions like the BBC or the Lottery, there will be information in there to help.
One of the most important institutions is the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Decisions on devolved matters are made here in Edinburgh and it gives us the best of both worlds.
Edinburgh is also home for thousands of people who work in vital industries like financial services and defence. This new booklet highlights the benefits of being part of a strong UK economy with a single UK market.
We haven’t done this lightly – putting together this information has taken a lot of people a lot of time – but I passionately believe it is our duty as a government to make sure you have everything you need to make this decision – whichever way you choose to make it.
I know a lot of stuff ends up on our doormats, but What Staying in the United Kingdom means for Scotland is worth more than a second glance.
Because the vote on September 18 will be like no other. It’s not a general election; it’s not a referendum on the track records of either the government in Westminster or the one in Holyrood.
Purely and simply, it is a once-in-lifetime, irreversible decision on the future of Scotland – and it’s in your hands.
So, be a “Yes”, be a “No” – but with the help of What Staying in the United Kingdom means for Scotland, you don’t ever have to be a “Don’t Know”.
Alistair Carmichael, Secretary of State for Scotland