I was born and spent half of my childhood in Wales, the other half in England. I moved to Edinburgh in 1998 for work and immediately fell in love with Scotland & Edinburgh. At one point during this time, I was running a team that managed exports for my employer from Scotland to virtually every corner of the world, seeing and understanding at first-hand how doing business within the Single Market & Customs Union was so much easier than trading further afield. Later career moves meant I lived & worked in Sweden (briefly) with a spell working across the countries formerly part of the USSR and then the Netherlands (for a decade) and apart from living & working abroad my jobs involved a great deal of international travel across Asia, Africa, the America’s and all of Europe.
My point is I have gained some insight into the sheer quantity of paperwork needed to trade out-with the single market, and how the world is coalescing into trade blocs. I also have stood in border control passport queues on every continent (except Antarctica) and I can tell you the inter-EU travel experience with Freedom of Movement is vastly easier!
I was living in the Netherlands in 2014 so – as the franchise for IndyRef1 was residence-based – I could not vote. But if I could have voted, being honest with you, I would have voted No. Partly because I do believe we are all better when we work together, but I was also convinced that Scotland’s place in the EU could not be regained after independence against the wishes of the “former UK”. Even so I was a bit taken aback the morning after the vote to watch Cameron’s EVfEL speech on TV and over the longer term was dismayed to see the unravelling of the Vow. It got me thinking.
However, it was the Brexit referendum in 2016, without a clear proposition, with illegal dark money funding via a loophole in Northern Ireland electoral law, the theft of almost all social media account profiles in the UK, the illegal collaboration between campaign organisations and the endless lies that made me realise Scotland must make its own way and work with like-minded democratic neighbours.
Within the confines of devolved powers, the choices our elected MSP’s have made since devolution (baby boxes, free public transport for youngsters & OAP’s, free University tuition and the most progressive tax system in the UK) provide a glimpse of what an independent Scotland might look like, and that glimpse is both an intriguing and motivating vision of the Nation we could make. It’s a vision of the future I would like to see become real.