Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Scottish referendum is a battle for hearts and minds: We achieve so much more as part of the United Kingdom

Scottish referendum is a battle for hearts and minds
Scottish referendum is a battle for hearts and minds

Earlier this month NI Conservatives attended our Scottish Conservative colleagues’ conference, in Edinburgh.  It was an uplifting event, full of proud Scots, particularly young people, who are passionate about their country’s future.

In fewer than 180 days Scotland will decide whether it remains part of the United Kingdom. The referendum has focussed minds, not only on the economic and practical consequences of breaking up our state, but also on the proud history, culture and language which we share, across these islands.

Ultimately, only Scottish voters can choose whether they want to remain part of this great country, but there is a great deal at stake for all of us.

No-one who cares about the Union should be slow to remind the Scots just how much we value them as members of the UK family. The independence referendum will be a battle for hearts as well as heads.

Of course, as well as being a family, there are all sorts of rivalries between the nations of the UK. Whether it’s on the sports field, or just a bit of banter, these are healthy and fun.

Who didn’t enjoy getting one over the English at Windsor Park, back in 2005, or Ireland winning the Six Nations a few weeks ago?  But at the same time, we can all share equally in the Olympic and Paralympic achievements of Mo Farah, Chris Hoy, Jade Jones or Northern Ireland’s own Kelly Gallagher.

We are friendly rivals, who come together to form a greater whole, shaped by common identity, common purpose and common influence in the world, that far exceeds the sum of our constituent parts. We achieve so much more as part of the United Kingdom, whether it is in business, the arts, politics, science or culture.

Our Scottish party colleagues are busy articulating the reasons why our British family is ‘better together’. It will be Scotland’s decision, but they are clear that people from Northern Ireland, England and Wales can play an important role, by spelling out how much we value our Union.

The result of the referendum on September 18th is vital for all of us. We wish our Conservative friends well in their attempts to secure Scotland’s place within the UK.   

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