THIS is the concluding article in our three-part Open Minds mini-series taking on the myths we commonly see raised by Unionists as arguments against Scottish independence

MYTH 7: Nationalism is by its very nature a bad thing

The desire for independence is often linked by its critics to a right-wing nationalism which has caused conflict and division all over the world. The independence debate is very often portrayed as a choice between nasty nationalism and good traditional “British” values.

That, of course, isn’t the choice at all. The current values of the UK Government are born out of a particularly unpleasant strand of British nationalism. It’s these values that have driven Brexit and that are behind moves to strip away powers from the Scottish Parliament and stop it from enacting progressive legislation, for instance on protecting children’s rights.

We see now the damage British nationalism has inflicted on Britain through Brexit and how empty the promised ‘’benefits’’ have proved to be. We can see now that it was driven by a historical knee-jerk reaction to a feeling of loss of British superiority and a doomed desire to “put the great back in Great Britain”.

Westminster likes to describe independence supporters as separatists but it is they who have separated Britain from its trading partners and neighbours, risked peace in Northern Ireland and reduced its standing in the world.

The type of civic nationalism embraced by Scotland couldn’t be more different. The Scottish Government wants more immigrants, not fewer. It recognises the taxes new Scots pay will grow our economy and that the different cultures they bring will make Scotland a more diverse nation. We want to reconnect with our European friends and neighbours that we didn’t want to leave.

We want to extend our trading and cultural links to other countries, we want to re-establish freedom of movement and allow our young people to live and study in other countries. Independence in the modern world doesn’t mean withdrawing into ourselves. It means extending the hand of friendship and encouraging good relations with the global community. It means co-operation rather than conflict,

MYTH 8: An independent Scotland would be last in the queue to join the EU

First of all, there is no queue to join the EU. Five countries are “recognised candidates” – Turkey (which applied in 1987), Northern Macedonia (2004), Montenegro (2008), Albania (2009) and Serbia (2009). The criteria for being considered for membership are that a ‘’European state’’ respects the “principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law”. It’s almost impossible to imagine an independent Scotland failing to those standards given it was a member for 47 years.

Scotland would have to apply to rejoin the EU because the UK left and took Scotland with it even though we voted 62% to Remain.

Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, in April 2017 ruled out his country actively blocking a membership application from an independent Scotland and that destroyed another popular myth.

READ MORE: Open Minds on Independence #17: Westminster myths about referendum are wrong

None of the other 26 countries in the EU has suggested blocking an application from Scotland, should one be forthcoming. There’s certainly an appetite within Scotland for such an application. In last May’s European elections, 71% the popular vote in Scotland went to pro-EU parties, and 90% of Scotland’s MPs elected in December favoured staying in the EU.

Barbara Lippert is the director of research at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin and an expert in EU enlargement. In January, she said Brexit had been a “gamechanger” for many in Europe in understanding why some Scots want to leave the UK. She said she believed there would now be “broad openness” to an independent Scotland becoming part of the EU.

James Ker-Lindsay, a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, has also dismissed any suggestion Scotland would have to “get in the queue”. He said: ‘’There is absolutely no reason to believe that is the case at all. That is not how EU enlargement works. It is simply a case with the European Union if you are ready, and there is a political will to take you in, then you join. You don’t have to defer that membership behind any other country that might be in advance of you.”

Myth 9: You can’t hold a referendum without Westminster’s “permission”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson certainly insists this is the case. He has said he will not pass a Section 30 order, which he claims is necessary to legitimise an independence referendum. His party leader in Scotland, Douglas Ross, undermines that by claiming that the only way to stop a referendum is to vote Tory in the May election.

Both men say that a referendum held without a Section 30 order would be “illegal”. The SNP disagree and their roadmap to independence includes holding a referendum, if a pro-independence majority is elected to the Scottish Parliament in May and, if necessary, without a Section 30 order and inviting the UK Government to challenge it in court.

Nicola Sturgeon insists Holyrood has the democratic right to hold a legal referendum without Westminster’s “permission’”and there is considerable support for that position. Ciaran Martin, the top civil servant who negotiated the Edinburgh Agreement which paved the way for the 2014 referendum, says Johnson’s position fundamentally changes the Union from one based on consent to one based on the force of law. A law that many constitutional lawyers do not believe exists and can be challenged in court.

The Scottish Government can hold a referendum but without agreement from the UK Government the result would not bind the UK Government -– the 2016 Brexit referendum did not legally bind the UK government to enact Brexit either.

Myth 10: Independence for Scotland would abandon the rest of the UK to permanent Tory rule

To think that is a problem is to believe that Scotland has the right to vote in a government to rule the people of England that they have rejected at the ballot box. We disagree England should choose its own Governments.

However, it also isn’t true. In fact, in only four of the 18 elections between 1945 and 2010 would the result have been changed without Scottish votes.

  • In 1964 Labour’s House of Commons majority of seats would have been lost without Scotland. In that event, the Tories would have been the largest party but would not have had a majority.
  • In February 1974 Labour was the largest party but did not have a majority of seats. Without Scotland, the Conservatives would have been the largest party but would not have had a majority.
  • In October 1974 Labour won a majority of seats but without Scotland Labour would still have been the largest party but would not have had a majority.
  • In 2010 the Tories were the largest party but did not have a majority of seats. They formed a government in coalition with the LibDems. Without Scotland, the Tories would have won an outright majority.

READ MORE: Open Minds on Independence #18: Busting the old Unionist anti-indy myths

In the remaining 14 elections during the same period, the result would have been unchanged had Scotland been independent. That includes five majority Labour governments elected without needing Scottish votes to have a majority of seats.

In mathematical terms, if Scotland became independent it would still be possible for the rest of the UK to elect majority Labour governments should it chose to do so. Scotland, on the other hand, would always get the government it votes for.

However, in a poll conducted this week Boris Johnson’s Government has increased in popularity and opened up a 10% lead over Labour in Westminster voting intentions. So it’s more likely that staying with the UK will result in Scotland having to accept permanent Tory rule.