Huge year ahead for Glasgow and Scotland

2014 is going to be a big year for Glasgow and a big year for Scotland.

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In a little over 200 days, the great city of Glasgow will host the 20th Commonwealth Games.

The eyes of the sporting world will turn our way. 14 venues, 17 sports, thousands of athletes, 15,000 volunteers, hundreds of thousands of spectators, a worldwide audience of millions.

Come July Glasgow and Scotland will showcase itself to the world by hosting one of the great sporting occasions.

And I know the people of Glasgow will give the world a warm welcome.

I know that it's not just the great sporting facilities or the fantastic cultural opportunities that will make the games a great success, but more than all of that it's the people of Glasgow who will make the difference.

Just as it's people who will make the Games, it's people who make Glasgow.

We only have to look at the city's reaction to the Clutha tragedy to see the difference we can all make.

Indeed, I am proud the Lord Provost's Clutha Fund has already raised more than £200,000.

And only a few weeks after the Commonwealth Games, Scotland will play host to golf's Ryder Cup.

Another truly great sporting event will come to the home of golf and I hope the miracle at Medinah is going to be followed by more European glory at Gleneagles.

And, of course, sandwiched in between these two fantastic sporting events will be an event of a different kind but one which is even more historic; the independence referendum.

The once-in-a-lifetime vote, a decision that will shape the future of Scotland for generations, will take place on September 18.

Whatever the outcome, the people of Scotland are truly living in historic times.

The people of Scotland have a big decision to make and for the next nine months they deserve the very best of debate.

I want the debate on Scotland's future to be full of positivity and passion.

Both sides will put forward their case and make their arguments and it is vital that it is done in a way that seeks to include every Scot.

After all, the decision is one which will affect everyone who lives here, works here or who does business here.

At every level the decision in September will impact on Scotland.

And in the debate we have a great opportunity to discuss the kind of future we want for Scotland and its people.

But I am clear that this is not a choice, as others would suggest, between the status quo and independence.

For me this is a debate between independence versus the real economic and social change I believe people are crying out for.

Making sure that we focus on growing an economy that works for everyone, fairness and transparency in the tax system, decisive action on the cost-of-living crisis and support and security for people when they need it.

These are the issues that should be the priority for Scotland and these are the issues Labour will campaign on.

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