DESPITE Alyn Smith’s attempt to “pin down some of the myths… about Scotland and the EU”, his article is light on facts and balance, but is comprised of platitudes and rhetoric which the entire discussion on the EU has been rife with. We need an informed debate and willingness to discuss all of Scotland’s options – most importantly regarding power and democracy. I agree with Alyn that “we need to keep our eyes on the prize”. However, where we would fundamentally disagree is what the prize is.

For Alyn, it appears that the prize is independence which cannot be separated from EU membership. For me, it is independence – either in or out of the EU. We will always have more control over the decisions which affect our lives than we will in the UK. Power is why we campaign for independence.

READ MORE: Joining EFTA or the EEA is the wrong option for Scotland

Admittedly, there are many people like myself who would vote for independence whether or not EU membership appeared on the ballot paper. But it would be a mistake to assume that those who voted Yes and Leave would prioritise independence or that those who voted no and remain would suddenly come their senses. While Brexit is the trigger for a second referendum, independence must be fought for on its merits – power and change. Not the merits of EU membership.

Our ideals are not measured by our membership of a political union – the same argument used by Better Together. Talk of Scotland in the EU demonstrating “solidarity” and showing us to be “cooperative” and “fair” all suggest that these things are impossible outside of full EU membership. Non-EU states are more than capable of demonstrating values of solidarity and unity as well as growth. Ironically, Norway’s (an EFTA member) economic success is an example used in the SNP’s latest leaflet.

I defended a polling station in Barcelona during the Catalan referendum as police batons reigned down while the EU looked on. It did not feel like co-operation. It did not feel solidarity from the EU institutions which backed Madrid.

It did not feel fair. It felt like elites were working together against democracy. The EU cannot be perceived through a rose-tinted lense. The rights we enjoy cannot be credited to elites, but to the people.

During the 2014 referendum, the prospect of Scotland becoming independent and another partner joining the already crowded negotiating table did not appeal to EU institutions and its bureaucrats – least of all to the centralising heads of state of Europe seeking to protect territory they believe is rightfully theirs. When they soften their attitudes towards Scotland, they see an opportunity to punish the UK Government and protect EU interests.

EFTA would allow us to retain an equal partnership and more powers while still having input. EFTA states are able to reform but also reject some EU proposals and have been described as a “leaders” in EU-rule making, engaging in numerous negotiations pertaining to trade, security and environmental legislation.

Not to mention more powers – like over fishing. Polling shows 70% of Norwegians favour the current relationship they have with Europe. We often aspire to be like our Scandinavian neighbours, so do we think their model wouldn’t work for us?

It will be difficult to have full EU membership and negotiate Scotland’s concession from the Common Fisheries Policy with 26 other members – as is SNP policy. An EU reform agenda from the SNP is non-existent.

If the UK has always struggled to achieve concessions, Scotland will not be any different.

People who support an alternative relationship with the EU can’t be regarded as “sniffy” or their ideas “fantasy”. It would be a total capitulation and undermine the point of independence for us to make decisions based on other countries’ wishes rather than our own aspirations. Arguments of an easy option are short-sighted. It would be difficult to negotiate Scotland’s independence, but it is in the long-term benefit of the country. Politics often requires compromise. What matters is what those compromises are.

An alternative independent Scotland’s relationship with Europe has rarely been examined. So if Alyn is interested in having an informed debate, then let’s have it and discuss our options rather than write them off.