THERE is a danger in believing too strongly in your country’s mythology, and this is a danger most easily seen from afar.

In the same way that sometimes the solution to other people’s problems is painfully obvious while your own are mysterious and intractable, so it is with national issues.

From the vantage point of the UK, for example, it is clear that America’s internal propaganda around “the free” gets in the way of implementing laws that would bring about freedom from poverty, freedom from gun violence or freedom from the fear of going bankrupt because of ill-health.

Mythology about “the American dream” means that they can’t take steps to deal with their endemic structural inequality that would make social mobility a reality.

While you believe in the myth, you take no action to improve the reality.

From the vantage point of living in Scotland, in some ways one of the world’s “younger” democracies in that its proportional parliament was created in the late 20th century, it is easy to see how the mythology of “Britain” holds back desperately needed reform of Westminster.

British nationalists believe that they are “the fathers of democracy” and have “the mother of parliaments”, and while they believe in British exceptionalism they will do nothing to take steps to cure the country’s fundamental ills.

In England, the NHS has been reduced to a brand, a letterhead that stills says “National Health Service” on it, even if it adds “provided by Virgin health” further down the page. The mythology of the NHS lives on, even if its meaning as a “national” service has been abandoned everywhere but Scotland.

British nationalists may continue to believe that they have a UK-wide functioning social welfare system, despite all the evidence. The UN recognised what the UK welfare state has become a political tool of social re-engineering which inflicts “great misery” on citizens.

And the much-vaunted values of human rights and the rule of law? Sacrificed on the altar of Brexit.

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It is time to stop believing in the mythology of Britain. Britain is an old democracy, created hundreds of years ago and reformed only in minuscule increments. Each new law is still paraded as a scroll down the corridor to the House of Lords, scrawled in ancient Norman French.

We have around 800 unelected legislators in the Lords – 800 and growing, every time a Prime Minster hands out favours to friends, like Theresa May did this week.

The National: Theresa May

Their number also includes hereditary peers who carry shards of the divine right of kings in their blood. Their number includes members of an official state religion, an institution the UK shares with very few countries, one of them Iran.

Until very recently, these religious members, bishops, couldn’t be women. Sexism, cooked into the very marrow of the UK’s legislative bones.

The first-past-the-post electoral system makes it more difficult for women and other under-represented groups to win seats. This leads to Westminster, even in the 21st century, being hopelessly dominated by rich, white men, and it means that time after time the majority of Britons are being ruled by a government representing and chosen by a minority of voters.

In turn, it has meant voters must game the system to try desperately to avoid the worst outcomes, instead of voting for the government that they want to see.

From the vantage point of a proud New Scot, it is my view that Westminster is fundamentally un-reformable. The Tories, Labour and the LibDems each choose power over fundamental reform.

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Look at Boris Johnson’s attempts to stuff the Lords with Brexiteers to prevent scrutiny. Look at how New Labour’s promised reform of the upper chamber were watered down. And what has happened to Labour’s promised offer of real federalism? It has vanished.

Look at how quickly the Liberal Democrats abandoned the fundamental principle of meaningful electoral reform when they got a sniff of power-sharing with a right-wing traditionalist Conservative government. Look at how willing the party’s new leader Jo Swinson has said she will be to work with that party again.

These parties are as wedded to the mythology of Britain as the idea that a fictional king can pull a fictional sword from a fictional stone and unite the tribes around a single round table.

The myth of Britain is one of the reasons why I am so keen for Scotland to go its own way as a forward-thinking independent country. We have the systemic building blocks in place. We have a real NHS. We have a new social security agency. Our democracy is proportional, which facilitates negotiation and compromise.

It helps a more diverse group of parliamentarians get elected.

But Scotland is not immune to its own mythology. The case for independence must be built on a vision for the kind of country we want to build, not on an exceptionalism based on fictional nostalgia.

That’s why we should be discussing now what Scotland can do with powers over energy regulation and tariffs, industry and company law, VAT and other reserved matters.

Because if independence is not about addressing inequality and building a sustainable future for all, what is it but another myth?