Promises must be acted upon

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Having gone north to campaign for a ‘No’ vote with my Labour comrades, I am relieved that independence was scotched, so to speak, by a democratic vote and by a wide margin.

I totally respected the right of the people of Scotland to make their own way but am very pleased that the arguments for being better together won through.

That is not the end of the matter, however.

Promises were rightly made by the leaders of the three main parties that a No vote would also mean continuing change in Scotland where there is clearly disaffection.

A union must not only be voluntary but must change with the times and change in one part inevitably means change in other parts.

The possibility of an independent Scotland would have had major consequences for us as its near neighbours, as has the devolution of powers in this century.

I completely agree with calls for a promise that the citizens of the north east will be treated fairly so it is better equipped to compete on more equal terms, not just with the south of England, but a more powerful Scotland. The North East Chamber of Commerce rightly argues for measures to redress the imbalance between Scotland and the north east so we have better governance and greater growth.

The next few months and beyond will be focused on recalibrating the union as a whole. The north east must not be neglected.