Alyn Smith MEP: Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on

Writing for PoliticsHome on St Andrew's day SNP MEP Alyn Smith argues the case for Scottish independence.

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Published by www.politicshome.com on 30th November 2011.

For years, for decades, for generations Scottish independence has been an aspiration and a cause worth campaigning for, not just for the Scottish National Party but in the hearts and minds and hopes of people in all parties and in none and from every part of the country. The SNP’s majority in the Scottish Parliament means that it’s an aspiration now in touching distance.

There’s a referendum coming and there’s a campaign already started.

The mechanics of the transition to independence will be scrutinised by the people before making that choice, and the SNP relishes that – we have simply yet to hear a rational or positive case for continuing in the UK that does not rely upon ignorance, fear or inertia.

Independence isn’t about flags and anthems, not pride nor spite. Independence is a launch-pad for the better country we want to build, a place to start the journey to a better future for our people, it’s about using Scotland’s natural resources for the benefit of Scotland’s people, about creating the better, kinder, society we want, about Scotland’s voice being heard in the international organisations of the world.  I believe we’ll be a wealthier nation under independence but a nation is more than a balance sheet.

What’s driving the growing and insistent calls for independence covers a range of issues; jobs, the economy, our public services; but I believe that the biggest driver of all, the real push, is that we are, quite simply, different.  We are a nation whose sovereignty is currently commanded down pathways which don’t sit easily with us, our beliefs or our collective conscience.

We are rediscovering a Scottish internationalist demos that is quite simply different from our southern neighbours (and, indeed, from our Welsh and Irish friends). Our histories are intermingled but distinct, our attitudes diverge, our civic discourse differs. We are different nations with differing outlooks, with a shared future working together within the European family, but not of a thirled and uncomfortable coexistence in an increasingly artificial state.

An independent Scotland would see much of whats good stay the same. Our relationship with the rest of the UK would improve; a real respect agenda of equals.  Much that directly affects the Scottish people is already controlled in Edinburgh: the Environment, Education, Health and Justice all already come under the remit of the Scottish Government, allowing Scotland to pioneer major policy changes like the smoking ban and minimum pricing on alcohol; the council tax freeze, free prescriptions and, of course, free university tuition for Scots students. We have done well and we can do better.

So with the current Holyrood powers, Scots have, as a nation, made massive improvements. But a wealth of powers still remained locked in London – powers that growing numbers of Scots think should be repatriated.  The re-establishment of our national Parliament has changed much, but with our regaining of independence we will do better yet.

That sovereignty will bring a wealth of opportunity and optimism for Scotland, with the nation taking its place in the international community.  Scotland would remain inside the European family but as a full member with the voice to stand up for itself with a renewed confidence in her abilities.

There is little doubt in the minds of a growing number of Scots that the interests of the nation are best served with full independence. Internationalism and a desire to feel at home in the world is part of our DNA. As Winnie Ewing said after winning the Hamilton by-election in 1967; ‘Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on’.