NICOLA Sturgeon’s recent article in the pages of this newspaper proved that the independence movement is based upon a solid argument, that it is making serious and credible efforts to address the economic questions thrown up by independence.

It’s a heartening and refreshing contrast to the let’s make it all up as we go along strategy of the UK Government and what passes for its Brexit plan. Here we are, almost three years after the EU referendum, and hard line Brexiters still have no answers to the question of the Irish border, the future relationship between the UK and the EU, or how a weakened and diminished UK can possibly make better trade deals with third countries than it could as part of the EU.

The economy is of course vitally important. Like many in the independence movement I have always believed that it is self-evident that an independent Scotland would be better off using its own resources for the benefit of Scotland than allowing those resources to be squandered in the interests of the City of London and a Westminster Parliament which doesn’t have the interests or concerns of Scotland at heart.

You only have to look at comparable northern European nations of a similar size to Scotland to see that they all manage to provide better services for their citizens than the UK does, despite possessing far fewer resources and potential than Scotland does. We have to undo the generations of damage done to our economy by years of Westminster misrule, but an independent Scotland would be a wealthy northern European nation, one which would be well placed to become one of the most prosperous and stable democratic states in the world.

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However, the real reason that so much focus is placed upon economic arguments for independence is because that’s the chosen battleground of British opponents of independence. The economy is a subject with which it is very easy to dissemble, confuse, mislead, and deceive. All you need to do is to throw a whole lot of carefully selected statistics into the debate, and all of a sudden you can make just about any argument you care to.

That’s how we end up with British nationalists who – in all apparent seriousness – argue that Scotland would be too poor to join the EU and that somehow Scotland is the only country in the world for which every single currency option would be a disaster.

It’s how we get all those graphs which claim to prove that Scotland would have a national deficit larger than Greece when it seemed to be headed for bankruptcy.

We must not diminish or minimise the importance of the economy and of course it’s vital to make sure that the independence movement has a credible economic case for independence, but we need to remember that the economy is not the entirety of our argument.

Opponents of independence focus so much on the economy because it’s an easy subject with which to confuse people, but also because they want to distract attention from other reasons for independence, reasons which they have no real counter arguments against.

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Scotland is constantly being told that it’s a valued partner in a family of nations, yet in practice the needs and concerns of Scotland get no greater consideration than the needs and concerns of an English county. In fact, when it was put to the UK Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes that Scotland has different immigration needs from the rest of the UK which warrant Scotland having control over immigration into Scotland, she replied that she was no more disposed to grant powers over immigration to Scotland than she was to Lincolnshire. Scotland sees itself as an ancient nation, as a partner in a union, but from the perspective of Westminster it’s just another region of the UK.

The National: Immigration Minister Caroline NokesImmigration Minister Caroline Nokes

Scotland sees itself as a nation, but it’s a nation which doesn’t have any say over policies which directly affect its future. Scotland hasn’t voted for Conservative governments since the 1950s, but over those past 70 years it has experienced decades of Conservative rule. During that period, Scotland has constantly had to deal with government policies which are detrimental to Scottish interests, and which the people of Scotland have explicitly rejected.

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Meanwhile, those governments turn a blind eye to those policies which the people of Scotland have chosen. Scotland campaigned for decades for its own parliament in the teeth of Westminster refusals. Now we’re told that we require the permission of a Conservative prime minister that we didn’t vote for in order even to ask ourselves about what sort of future we want.

We get dragged into wars which are no concern of ours because the British state wants to be the Pentagon’s best pal. We have to host weapons of mass destruction which don’t help to protect us but rather make our largest cities prime targets. Scotland is given no choice.

And now we’re facing Brexit, the greatest political crisis since the Second World War, and being dragged out of the EU against our will by the same people who told us in 2014 that a vote for independence was a vote to leave the EU. We were told that we needed the UK to ensure our democratic stability, and we see the grinning mug of Nigel Farage and his right-wing populism constantly being touted by the BBC.

All throughout this sorry process, the Scottish Government has scarcely been kept informed by the UK Government never mind having an active role in the negotiations. Although, to be fair, that’s partly because the UK Government can’t really inform anyone what it’s doing when it doesn’t have a clue itself.

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Yes, the economy is important, but independence asks a far more profound question. It asks Scotland what path it wants to take. It asks Scotland who is the sovereign body in this land – is it the people of Scotland, or is it a parliament on the banks of the Thames where Scotland’s representative are a permanent minority who can be ignored and sidelined?

It asks a question about the nature of this so-called Union that we are controlled by. What sort of Union is it that doesn’t give its constituent members a voice at the highest levels of government? It asks Scotland what kind of country it wants to be. And given Brexit, the question of independence asks the most important question of them all. Does Scotland want to be a country at all, or to remain a marginalised region of Brexit Britain?