As this week’s column goes to print, I am in Scotland campaigning with colleagues ahead of the referendum – because although I do not have a vote in it, I do have a voice.
As a proud Welshman, proud of Scotland, but also proud of what we achieve together as a United Kingdom, my message to Scottish voters will be ‘Stay with us’.
We are tied together by bonds of friendship, family and economy.
My family history, going back 300 years, is Northern Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh. Coal hewed out in the valleys of South Wales, and exported by the Marquess of Bute and others from Cardiff docks that form the heart of my constituency, fired the ships of the Clyde that took British manufactures to the world. Cardiff Bay is filled with Scottish links and names, with places like Loudoun Square and Bute Street – indeed my constituency office is in Mount Stuart House. The proudly Scottish Waverley will soon be paying its annual visit to the Bristol Channel to sail from Penarth pier.
Whether in family; economy and industry; leisure; or shared sacrifice – we are indelibly linked. We have, can and will achieve more together.
But it’s not just about emotion; the decision is too big for that alone. It’s about hard economics, the challenges of the world we live in, and delivering the most effective forms of government for people in Wales, Scotland and the UK.
Support for independence in Wales is at an historic low. But the Scots’ decision will have huge consequences not only for future generations in Scotland, but will also raise considerable constitutional questions for the rest of the UK.
I believe devolution - not independence - is the right vehicle for ambitions of strong nations with a shared purpose.
A UK economy of 63 million people, is stronger, more resilient and has more weight around the world than just 5 million or 3 million people. How would Scotland or Wales have coped alone in the aftermath of the global financial crisis? Our shared currency - in a global and uncertain world – currently lets us pool risk, but would be severely undermined by competing governments trying to run it. And in the starkest sense, British security and defence are the best guarantor for the safety of people in Cardiff or Glasgow, Penarth or Perth, in a rapidly changing and uncertain world.
To break us up would be a tragedy for the people of Scotland, and the people of Wales. Lost history. Lost solidarity. Lost opportunity to face the challenges of the world together. We have a proud shared history, and I want us to have a shared future too.