AS we emerge from the global pandemic, Scotland needs to look hard at the type of country we want to live in and the positive changes we want to make.

We have a choice of two futures. Without independence, we will go on being tied to a UK which has already forced the hardest of Brexits upon us against our will and in which we can never have an equal say.

But with independence – with hard work and by being ambitious for Scotland – we can create a country that embraces the values of fairness, equality and justice and guarantees them for all our fellow citizens. If we do that, we can also be an inspiration to others and play a role in creating a better world. Scotland’s economy (GDP) is larger per head than France, Italy, Japan – in fact, larger than most bigger countries across the globe.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes: Scotland is a wealthy nation in waiting

That means that, contrary to all the smears and fears, Scotland will be the richest and most developed nation that has ever chosen to become independent. But there is more. Research also shows that independent developed nations with smaller populations are more agile and nearly always outperform the UK across all economic measures. They have better pensions, earn more in work and provide fairer support for those who can’t work.

So by choosing a different future – an independent future – we can take advantage of the wealth we already have and outperform what we are experiencing as part of the UK. The question now is not if we should choose to change, but instead what we want to become. What type of country do we – every one of us – want to live in? What would our society look like if we were to build our new country around the values, hopes and dreams of the people who live here, instead of the demands of Westminster politicians or the financiers of the City of London?

The National: The financiers of the City of London are not Scotland's futureThe financiers of the City of London are not Scotland's future

The insecure future for everyone in Scotland is actually the one that keeps us in the UK, lurching from crisis to crisis. Over the past 20 years we have lived through a banking collapse, swingeing austerity cuts to public expenditure and services, Brexit and now rampant corruption at the heart of government, as well as suffering the effects of a global pandemic. We need a break – but we can only get that if we reset our society to focus not on what others force us to do, but on the wellbeing of all our talented people, our wonderful environment and, as a result, on creating a more sustainable and wealthy society.

WE have to move away from unequal wealth creation and short-term fixes, often leading to problems created by the UK Government, and start to focus on our own needs and how we fulfil them working constructively with others across the globe.

Fortunately, we are already taking our first steps towards creating that better place to live, love and work.

Scotland is at the heart of a new club of countries which know that the only future we have is as healthy citizens living on a healthy planet.

READ MORE: Believe In Scotland poll reveals what Scots think on 17 wellbeing issues

Five nations are now Wellbeing Economy Governments, working within the Wellbeing Economy Alliance to recognise and meet the economic, social and environmental challenges that face humanity.

Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Wales and Scotland are developing ways of ensuring that their citizens come first and sharing their experiences and achievements. More countries are keen to join in.

We need to move forward, not backwards – and making Scotland an independent wellbeing nation is the only way we can do so.

This article was part of our eight-page independence special, with one million copies printed and distributed. Click here to find out more