I believe that people living in Scotland are best placed to make decisions about Scotland’s future. We have the greatest stake in making sure Scotland is a success.
That’s why, today, the Scottish Government has published our proposals for an independence referendum to be held in autumn 2014. And we are keen to hear your views at http://www.scotreferendum.com.
Our referendum will be held on the same basis as any Scottish election, to the same standards and with the same guarantee of fairness. We will decide our future in a vote which is beyond challenge or doubt.
The consultation seeks views on what the ballot paper should say, what spending limits should be set on campaign groups and how the referendum should be managed and regulated. It sets out the timetable for parliamentary and public debate which will ensure that people in Scotland are able to take a fully informed decision about their future.
On voting day, it will be just like any other election. You will go to local polling stations, mark the ballot paper and later the result will be declared. If the people vote yes, the Scottish Government will negotiate with the UK and move to secure the transfer of sovereignty and powers to the people of Scotland.
Much of what Scotland will be like the day after independence will be similar to the day before: people will go to work, pensions and benefits will be paid just as they are today, children will go out to play. Life will go on as normal. What independence will mean is that decisions about what happens in Scotland and to Scotland are taken by the people who care most about Scotland – that is the people living, working and bringing up their families in Scotland. The people of Scotland will be in charge. Our future, our resources, our opportunities will be in our hands.
Ours is a lucky nation, blessed with natural resources, bright people and a united society. We already have an independent education system, legal system and NHS. They are respected worldwide. I believe that if we connect the wealth of our land to the well-being of our people, we can create a better country.
With independence we will be able to do more to create jobs, grow the economy and help the vulnerable. Instead of having a Tory government in London in charge of key parts of our society, we will be able to choose a better way for Scotland.
Under independence Scotland would take its place as a responsible member of the international community while continuing as a friend and good neighbour to the other nations of these islands, continuing the strong social union which will always bind us together.
We take this journey at a time of great change in the world. Environmental, financial and geo-political factors are in flux. It is our duty to create a modern nation that is fit for these new times, flexible and dynamic. We must renew democracy and strike a new bond between government and the people based on trust, shared values and priorities.
Our quest is to find the system of government that best suits the needs of the people of Scotland and which will bring fairness and prosperity to us and our children. It is our future and our choice.