SOMETIMES, when you’re on a long digital journey, it’s time to climb the metaphorical Munro, sit down and take in the view. No more so than when the road ahead seems to be full of obstacles and challenges. Today the view seems composed of a range of mountainous and rocky tests, with the main one being the most pressing global public health crisis in the last century.

Working for my constituents as the MP for West Dunbartonshire has brought home to me, and the people of the burghs of Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven, the limitations for us in the continuing fight against Covid-19. Yet from my vantage point, I can also see the hope that can and must underpin how digitisation can help combat coronavirus and enable us all to adapt to this new reality.

On Tuesday, the First Minister took the digital bull by the horns and through the new Programme for Government gave a clear and political statement of intent by focusing on the drive for digital innovation and a commitment to tackling digital exclusion for more than 55,000 of our fellow citizens. Indeed, this comes only a few days after the Logan Report – a review of the Scottish technology ecosystem – which gave 34 recommendations on how we can grow and enhance our exciting tech sector. From my viewpoint, these recommendations will ensure our digital journey is supported and better understood across a whole swathe of our society.

Looking east, I can also see how independent Estonia is rising to the challenge and I don’t need binoculars to see how a small, sovereign state and equal member of the world’s largest democratic free-trade union is working. Not only to combat Covid-19 at home but through its digital diplomatic reach, sharing experiences to ensure that digitisation plays its part in combating the pandemic.

Estonia, like every nation, independent or not, recognises the profound consequences of the gap between the richest and poorest. It heightens our profound anxiety, keenly felt by many of the long-term social and economic fabric of our societies, such as rising unemployment, increased misinformation and entrenched inequalities.

Never has the fragility of our shared humanity been so exposed on a global scale.

Yet even with only 1.5 million citizens, Estonia knows that by working collaboratively and in partnership on our common endeavour to overcome Covid-19, it can succeed as an independent nation.

Estonians, like the First Minister, recognise that the pandemic has exposed in sharp relief the digital divide in our societies. Estonia is going forward into a digital battle with Covid-19, and not alone. It is joining Singapore on a joint initiative called Close the Digital Divides: The Digital Response to Covid-19. Through this, both independent digital states are reaching out to less digitised nations to enable them to enhance their digital response to the pandemic.

The Estonian foreign minister said that through the joint initiative “we must turn to solidarity, international partnership and co-operation to find answers” to the pandemic. The foreign minister recognises that “our interdependence has never been clearer than now, in the wake of a global pandemic”.

As an independent state Estonia can and does punch above its weight.

On reflection, we here must see that with the limitations placed on Scotland by Westminster, that the opportunities and relationships which states such as Estonia are building, that only independence can enable Scotland to take its rightful place in the digital world as a collaborator and innovator, working in real and equal partnership with like-minded nations.

In the Programme for Government, each and every aspect of the Government’s national framework and commitment to equality and human rights, can only enhance our international reputation and assist in developing our global role as an independent digital partner. Digitisation can and must be at the heart, not only of our domestic policy, but in our international efforts after independence.

Concentrating on two elements of the national framework, such as “to have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable society” we should agree is only possible if we “live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe”. Looking at the framework through a digital lens, both domestically and internationally, Scotland can and will achieve much.

Such an outlook must be at the heart of our efforts to rebuild our communities and nation in the post-coronavirus world. One in which it is my fervent hope that Scotland shall be an independent state, working in collaboration and partnership, not only to secure a better digital future for ourselves but for all those who seek to promote, equality, dignity, respect and peace.

For we should be under no illusions that in regard to our digital future, these become questions of very great importance for us all in the relentless and ongoing battle against Covid-19.