This week, the United Kingdom’s future in Europe will be decided.
The vote on whether we will remain or leave the European Union has been at the forefront of the nation's consciousness.
I believe in the positive case for Europe and I see a bright future for Scotland within the EU.
And the North East is included in that positive vision.
Many benefits of our EU membership have become integral parts of our lives. Thousands of people across the North East have the right to work part-time, are entitled to paternity and maternity leave and receive holiday pay.
These pillars of the social chapter are all made possible as a direct result of EU legislation.
The Brexiteers have made it their mission to tarnish the concept of the United Kingdom within the EU with a pungent mixture of scaremongering and half-baked accusations. Boris himself made it clear where he stands when he said: “Boil it down to the single market. Scrap the social chapter,” in an interview in The Independent in 2012.
There is obvious friction in the North East as a result of our ties to the fishing industry, and I’ll add that I railed against the Common Fisheries Policy for much of my political career. What we shouldn’t forget is that Scotland’s fishing industry was viewed as ‘expendable’ by Whitehall despite the fact that we land the vast majority of the UK’s fish.
In this regard, I have urged David Cameron to appoint Fisheries Minister Fergus Ewing a key role to work on reforming fishing rights for our trawlermen, which, coinciding with the record number of boats being built, would contribute to a bright future upon the waves of the North Sea.
Justice Secretary Michael Gove, mentioned his own Aberdeenshire roots in the Evening Express earlier this month. He said that leaving the European Union would be the best move for our part of the country, which, as he puts it, “has always thought globally”.
Gove got one part of that statement correct, and we in the North East should celebrate the international outlook of our region and recognise the opportunities of EU membership and how it contributes heavily to our globalised perspective. Gove and his cohorts ignore the positives. Immigrants contributed over £2.5bn to our economy last year, putting in more than they took out.
Yes, we do think globally here in the North East, but we also believe in peace, progress and social provision – all of which are supported by EU membership. I urge voters to look around at the North East, and the many things which make our part of Scotland so special.
Today I debated the EU Referendum alongside Liz Kendal MP against Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Priti Patel MP.
One thing became clear very early on: It was business as usual from the Leave side, in that they brought little to the table other than scare tactics and bluster.
I was live on LBC, alongside my compadre Ian Dale.
I was in Wales today, campaigning for the positive case for Europe with Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru. However, the absolutely devastating news about Jo Cox reached me en route back to London. Truly dreadful. Jo was one of the brightest and best of the new MPs and a great loss to the country.
As the EU vote approaches, it was good to see actor Idris Elba make his own positive case to remain with a very important message.
Last week, I spoke at Oxford University's EU Referendum Debate. You can watch my contribution below.
Great to see Glenwyvis distillery are well on their way to reaching £1.5m of funding.