Indy2 – This time, it's a 'coupon-buster!'

So, you're as nervous as a sword-swallower with the hiccups. Thinking about Scottish independence rattles my buckie too – and I've been an advocate of independence since Chay Blyth joined the Sea Scouts. Change – especially the momentous change independence represents – is enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies (apologies for using medical terminology so early in this essay).

Yet, change is inevitable. Nicola Sturgeon indicates an independence referendum before 2023, Covid-19 permitting. Boris Johnson insists he'll decline the necessary Section 30 order to allow it. It's a stand-off, but the resolution of the current tension will result in a watershed. We'll be an independent nation, or we'll still be in the Union, subject to more Westminster governments we almost never vote for and whose promises are emptier than Ma Hubbard's pantry. This time they may seek to dismantle devolution and even shut down Holyrood altogether.

Says who?

I am a 67-year-old Scot, on the wrong side of my “best before” date. Physically, the age-related decline of my core strength means I can no longer trap a football with my bahookie without bending my knees. Nor can I participate in an eightsome reel without a letter from my doctor, a furlong of elastic bandage (my Mother's Pride white Scottish legs look like pipes lagged in anticipation of a cold snap in Thurso). Oh, and at least one Lagavulin stiffener. Mentally, it would be easier for me to cross the Pentland Firth in a coracle, using a snooker cue for a paddle, than to decipher the plot to River City (I have written to the MP for Shieldinch about this but, to date, have received no reply).

My frailties are irrelevant, however. This referendum isn't about my baby boomer buddies and me. It's about generations of Scots to come. It's about what kind of Scotland my children will live in. What type of relationship they will have with the rest of the world.

Naturally, at my age, the question arises, what sort of legacy can I bestow on my grandchildren before being measured for the “wooden boiler suit” as a prelude to pushing up bluebells in the local kirkyard until Gabriel blows his horn.

I can't leave them the farm; I don't own one. Any heirlooms to dispense? Beyond a solitary Wally Dug and an original copy of the Broons Annual 1956, I've not much to pass on.

I lack cash, being the underwhelmed recipient of a UK state pension – the worst in Europe. (The Universal Credit people tell me that provided I never need to pay a tradesperson to unblock the sink and I eat only on Thursdays, I should avoid rickets and won't have to become a lobby dosser because my incomings don't cover my rent.) There is, however, something far more valuable I could do for the bairns. I could use my vote in the upcoming referendum to help their chances of living in an independent Scotland – whatever we choose to base our currency on, be it the Guatemalan Quetzal, Embassy coupons or the thick-triangle Orkney oatcake (my preference).

I would happily live with a personal 50% Wally Dug deficit and, once a fortnight, dunk a heel into a bowl of tattie-paring soup (you'll find the recipe in the IDS Austerity Cookbook for the Undeserving Poor). I'd do these things willingly if it meant a brighter future for my descendants.

The game's afoot!

If I could make a case that we are not too wee, too poor or too stupid to run our own affairs as some have suggested, maybe then you'd see indy2 in a different light. I'll even throw in some metaphors or analogies to help statistics-averse people like me.

There are many positives to achieving an independent Scotland. I'll concentrate on areas where I believe that we would thrive as a nation, not simply survive. It isn't difficult. Scotland enjoys a unique combination of assets to construct a prosperous nation: we are blessed with abundant natural resources; we already participate in long-established global trading markets and financial structures. We also have a highly skilled workforce. That's a great start.

Too wee? You've been looking at the BBC's weather map, haven't you?

Before the First World War, the UK ruled over one-fifth of the world – and not always benevolently, it has to be said. The British Empire comprised 88 million people. Since Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand gained independence within the Commonwealth in 1939, 62 countries have gained independence from the United Kingdom. Not one of these countries has yet banged on John Bull's door and demanded to get back in. Independence is normal!

The National:

Scotland comprises almost one-third of the area of the United Kingdom. Other medium-sized European nations such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden are among the most prosperous countries in the world.

Not so wee after all, then. But wait until you see how much we've packed into our 30,000 square miles.

Too poor? What about our natural resources?

We routinely welcome brisk winds on drying greens across Europe, but they are especially welcome in Scotland, where 97% of consumed electricity is generated by renewable energy, including wind, of course. Scotland has an abundance of tidal, wind and wave power.

Research by the Office for National Statistics calculates the value to Scotland's economy of our natural resources, including wind, timber, water, oil and gas, at a massive £273 billion. And that's without factoring in the much higher value of Scotland's oil. Scotland may have only 8.4% of the UK population, but her natural wealth represents 34% of the UK's as a whole. We also produce roughly double our population's share of the UK's food. Does any of this say “too poor” to you?

There's more. Scotland's has 25% of Europe's offshore wind and tidal resources. In the first six months of 2019, wind turbines generated enough electricity to supply the equivalent of 4.47 million homes. That's enough electricity to power all the homes in Scotland. Plus most in the North of England, too. That's a 113% increase since 2016.

Let me simplify this for statistics-averse people like me. Do you remember the single-bar electric fire (with the chrome parabolic reflector) – a staple item of furniture in student flats from Aberdeen to Glasgow throughout the sixties and seventies – the kind whose medical side-effect was corned-beef legs? Well, Scotland's current annual output from wind alone is enough to power four of those fires until the end of the current geological era (Source: The writer's imagination).

Beyond power generation, our seas teem with marine life, which is, of course, another natural resource. Scotland is among the largest sea fishing nations in Europe. Scottish fishing vessels land around two-thirds of the total fish caught in the UK. Scotland has vast fishing stocks, owning one of the richest seas in Europe, with 20% of the EU's fish coming from Scottish waters. We enjoy vast amounts of clean, fresh water and beautiful landscapes, contributing to our thriving tourism sector.

The National: cost

Boffins working in Scotland's world-class IT sector argue that Britain in Bloom should extend its remit to cover all periods of history. That way, they reckon Scotland would beat the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the winner's podium by a country mile (Source: The writer's imagination).

Too stupid? Tell that to our highly educated citizens!

One of Scotland's most valuable resources is its people. Our universities and colleges enjoy international acclaim (Four are in the world's top 200). Scotland has a highly educated population – the most educated in Europe – 47% of our people, aged 25 to 64, having a university, college or vocational qualification. This is 4% above the UK and 15% above the EU average. In addition, universities and colleges in Scotland produce high-quality research and teaching. As a result, Scotland welcomes more than 50,000 students from 180 different countries every year.

To infinity and beyond (our shores)

Scotland is becoming more and more popular amongst financial and business services. Existing skill sets, lower costs of living and wages, and the fact that office rents are massively cheaper in Glasgow city centre than in London makes doing business in Scotland highly attractive.

In future, Scotland will compete on quality within the global economy and has the workforce to do so. Low-wage countries like China and India will continue to produce the cheapest goods, leaving Scotland to focus on high-quality output. Fortunately, Scotland already has many globally desirable products –whisky, life sciences (biological and medical), research and development, renewable energy projects, electronics, textile design and the games industry are competitive advantages in growth sectors. An independent Scotland can expand on this and boost industries in Scotland by creating an environment where small and medium-sized businesses prosper.

Scotland is well placed for trade. It has a strong trading relationship with countries worldwide, especially the United States, with an estimated £5.5 billion of exports from Scotland in 2017.

Most of Scotland's exports (60%) go to the rest of the UK. A fact that Unionists delight in pointing out. What they never point out is the reason for this. UK governments since Margaret Thatcher maintained a strong pound to support the financial services sector (mainly based in London. Who thought?) This forced Scottish businesses to trade more with the other UK nations as other countries could not afford Scotland's exports.

Hey, Boris, we want our squidger back…

I know what you're thinking: If we're not too wee, too poor or too stupid to thrive on our own, why aren't we thriving now? This question “draps the bool richt in the kypie”, because the final factor for economic success is self-governance.

Self-governance is the major prize of Scottish independence. With it, we'd be able to make our own decisions on trade, industry, social security, defence and everything else for that matter. Scotland is almost unique in the developed world, holding all the ingredients for creating wealth without fully enjoying its benefits.

I'm uncertain whether I'm getting my point across, but since I got an “O” Level in macroeconomics during my pre-decimalisation days, let me try a metaphor which I first learned from Kate Forbes's next-door neighbour's hairdresser's pal (Honest!).

The National: Finance minister Kate ForbesFinance minister Kate Forbes

“Look at it this way,” Kate Forbes's next-door neighbour's hairdresser’s pal said. “Imagine the economy as a game of tiddlywinks, with the winks representing all of Scotland's assets. The pot in the middle stands for self-governance. To win the game, Scotland needs to get all her assets into the self-governance pot to start making our decisions in line with our priorities. The problem is that Westminster holds the squidger (The squidger! – the large counter used to propel the winks. Do try to keep up!).”

Write to your MP about this (unless it's that lad from Shieldinch; he's a waste of time).

Other medium-sized European countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden have used their squidgers to become prosperous countries. Scotland will shortly have this opportunity too.

(Breaking news: My tiddlywink metaphor has buckled at the knees from overuse and has crawled off to the place where metaphors go to die. But let’s keep going without it; I promise it'll be worthwhile.)

An independent Scotland will have the power to improve the economy and create more jobs to benefit Scotland's people. That's why Scotland would thrive as an independent nation.

What will an independent Scotland feel like? For one thing, the taking of “fly-cups”, dunking Ginger Snaps and buying an Oor Wullie Annual for the weans' Christmas will remain optional, as will dressing up in the full Bonnie Prince Chairlie if you're only nipping down to Lidls for a Green Final. Otherwise, we'll be exactly the same people we were before, only this time in charge of our own destiny.

This time it's a coupon buster!

I have tried to use humour in this essay to make my case for Scottish independence, and I have saved one more analogy for you to round this off. My father-in-law spent every Saturday tea-time checking his pools coupon in front of the telly. There seemed always to arise a moment when he crumpled up his coupon and bounced it off the telly screen. For example, Stenhousemuir Stravaigers might have trounced Clachnacuddin Puddins 8-0. “Another coupon-buster,” my father-in-law would moan, “that's a quarter of a million slipped through my fingers, again!”

What if the Scottish people decide against self-governance at the second time of asking? Would that be a coupon buster for independence? My hunger for a free Scotland will go to the grave with me (see above, under wooden boiler suit), but a No vote this time would undoubtedly usher in unprecedented change to Scottish life – other people’s changes over which we'll have little control.

Sorry for channeling the Reverend IM Jolly in my conclusion. Scottish independence is the most serious issue facing Scots for 300 years. I hope we all choose wisely.