SCOTLAND is my home and has been all of my life.

It has shaped me and my beliefs, given me my sense of social justice and fairness and the idea of the common weal.

I want Scotland to be independent not because I think we are better than any other country but because I know we are just as good as any other country. Independence is the natural state of being for most nations around the world. Not being independent is the exception.

Those who claim that independence runs against global trends of integration and co-operation couldn't be more wrong. When I was born in Linlithgow on the last day of 1954, the United Nations comprised only 51 members. Today, that figure has risen to more than 190.

In Europe, that same trend has been in evidence. Of the 10 countries which joined the European Union in 2004, there were half a dozen which had become independent since 1990, and the same number are smaller countries than Scotland.

So Scotland's home rule journey is part of a bigger international trend. Globalisation has meant a growing desire for nations taking responsibility for their own affairs, and Scotland will bring its own distinct voice and values when it rejoins the family of nations as an equal member.

Whatever people's views on our country's future, that future can only be decided by those living here in Scotland, and that includes people from other parts of the UK and elsewhere who have made Scotland their home.

As it was once put by my late friend and colleague Bashir Ahmad, as proud and patriotic a Scot as I have ever met, it doesn't matter where you come from but where we are going, together, as a nation.