THE majority of Scots were against the Acts of Union. In 1706, opposition to the Treaty of Union was voiced by petitions from parishes, presbyteries and burghs, and riots broke out in Scotland’s cities. The Duke of Hamilton promised to speak for the people but when it came to the vote in Parliament, he stayed home with toothache. In retaliation, an angry mob chased his coach through the streets of Edinburgh. Like many of the nobles in the Scottish Parliament, Hamilton ran up huge debts, making him an easy target for bribery and blackmail.

Several parliamentarians were married to English women and, through their wives, held lands south of the Border. Queen Anne’s commissioners threatened members with the Aliens Act of 1705. They would be banished from England and forfeit their fortunes if they did not consider the Union.

The act was designed to put the wind up Scots who owned land in England. Suspecting the Parliament in Edinburgh would support the Stuarts to succeed Queen Anne to the throne of England, rather than her preferred House of Hanover, Westminster used “fear and smear” campaigns to bully Scots into accepting the Union and subservience.

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Prior to the Union, Scotland and England took very different approaches to trade with Europe. Scots sold cloth, wool and other raw materials then bought finished items. England sold finished goods and did not want Scotland selling Europeans cheap components to make their own.

After 1707, English laws imposed on Scotland destroyed trade with Europe, doing irreparable damage to the country’s economy. Scotland was forced to adopt whichever policies suited Westminster. As a result, Scotland today is a prosperous country trapped in poverty. Look out the window of many a food bank and you may find yourself staring at an oil terminal, the profits from which never quite reach Scottish purses.

If Scotland’s people are to reach their full potential, they must be free to develop a unique, dynamic and resilient Scottish economy. Such an economy is more than possible. Finland, Denmark and Norway are glowing examples of similar-sized countries with healthy economies. It is a success that can only germinate in an independent country, nurtured by home-grown economists, striving to create a secure future for an egalitarian society.

Unlike the UK constitution, constantly changing with the whims, scandals, mistakes, and crimes of every Conservative or Labour government, a written constitution may be the best foundation on which to build the rights of citizens and the role of government. A solid constitution, designed by the people of Scotland for the people and their needs, not ever-changing politicians and their hollow ideologies.

The majority of Scots (62%) voted against leaving the European Union but under Westminster rule, history has a habit of repeating itself. Once again, the wishes of its people were ignored and Scotland was forced to leave the EU against the nation’s best interests.

Europe and Scotland have traded to the mutual benefit of both since before the Middle Ages and in modern times Scots have made it clear in referendums in 1973, 1975 and 2016 that they wish to be part of the European community. Values held dear by Scotland – freedom, human dignity, democracy, equality and respect for human rights – are all enshrined in EU legislation.

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An independent Scotland will have the means to deliver an affordable and fair pension system, through the same pension centres located in Dundee and Motherwell as Scotland uses now. With a smaller population, the amount spent on social protection in Scotland does not need to be as high as in the rest of the UK and therefore a higher quality pension service is affordable after independence. As Scotland will likely rejoin Europe that pension will also, once again, be protected by EU membership.

A UK government went back on its promise to WASPI women (Women Against State Pension Inequality), when in April 2010 it began radical changes to raise the retirement age for women from 60 years to 65 then 66 and 67, and now there’s talk of it being extended to 75 years for both sexes. Many WASPI women were only told of the changes when they were in their late 50s and not only were their plans for retirement ruined, but some were left without an income.

Now the UK is no longer covered by an EU safety blanket, who is to say a UK government will not, at a moment’s notice, remove the retirement pension altogether?

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Powers retained by Westminster would serve the Scottish people better if they lay with Holyrood. One such power covers laws regarding the misuse of drugs. In 2017, the death rate per million population in Wales and England was 76, the highest on record. The rate for Scotland was 229 deaths per million population, the highest rate reported in Europe. The misuse of drugs increased by a further 6% in Scotland in 2019 with 1264 deaths (according to data from the National Records of Scotland).

A government free from Westminster restrictions would make laws to suit a rejuvenated country. Holyrood could pick and choose which countries to use as a role model. Countries joining to the EU are asked to sign up to the Schengen Agreement but if Scotland joins this won’t apply and free movement between Scotland and England would continue as it does now.

There is already a long-standing free movement agreement between the two. James VI ruled that Scots were free to live and work in England as long as the two countries shared a monarch. An independent Scotland has no intention of abolishing the monarchy. Ireland also had a similar agreement dating from before it put an end to British rule on December 6, 1921.

THERE will be no border posts between the two countries, but an agreement will allow electronic checks. Also, Police Scotland will have more control over border patrols and the amount of illegal substances flooding into Scotland from England.

If Scotland chooses, it can also follow the same policy as Portugal. In 2001, Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the consumption and possession of all illicit substances, although the sale of such remain illegal. Those found with a personal supply will be given a warning or small fine and appear before a local commission which will inform the person of the support system available to them. Addicts are helped by the law, not stigmatised and penalised by it.

The years following saw a dramatic drop in the use of drugs, drug-related crime, death from overdoses and infection rates. Language began to change too. Those who had been referred to as “dragadoes” (junkies) were now known more sympathetically as people with “addiction disorders”. This shift in language was a crucial part of Portugal’s rehabilitation. Would Scotland benefit from a move away from such words as “junkies”, “cokeheids”, “jaikies” and “dopeheids” from our rich and expressive Scots language? It would seem the Scottish Government believes so.

The House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee in its first report of the 2019 session recommended statutory decriminalisation of possession of drugs for personal use. This is a solution which has been found to address the root causes of problem drug use. The UK Government, in its response, made it clear it has no plans to decriminalise drug possession, despite its current strategies having no impact on what is an emergency situation in Scotland.

UK governments consistently pursue proposals that do not work while rejecting those that will work. One such example is leaving the EU without, it seems, any firm plans for a future in a self-created economic wilderness. The resulting border chaos means Scotland could be the hardest hit of all four UK countries. The EU is Scotland’s most valuable international export region accounting for 48% of all international goods and service exports, worth £16 billion in 2018 (data from The Scottish Parliament Information Centre). Scotland’s GDP is likely to be 6% lower in 2030 than if it had stayed in the EU. On the other hand, if an independent Scotland applied or joined the EU in its transitional period, it would have access to the single market and enjoy trading advantages over others in the rUK.

It is the intention of the SNP to trade in sterling for the transitional period and this may be advantageous to the rest of the United Kingdom as it would be able to buy food, energy and oil more cheaply from its neighbour Scotland than from the rest of the EU.

For almost a century, the British Broadcasting Corporation has controlled the majority of Scotland’s broadcasting from next door in England. It has also demanded licence fees from every viewer. In 2017, the BBC collected £324 million in Scotland, only £223m (69%) of which was spent on Scotland. Some £101m was sent to London. Despite promises to invest a larger proportion in Scotland, the figure was actually down 3% on the previous year.

A forward-looking Scotland will need a forward-looking and, above all, truthful broadcasting service to keep its people informed. Who will step into the gap left by a redundant BBC? It is quite likely a new publicly funded Scottish Broadcasting Service will be formed. After independence, all existing TV and radio broadcasting licences will be honoured and Scots will still be able to access the programmes they enjoy, while selling programmes made here to the BBC.

In the past, Scottish actors have had to move south of the Border to find work. They were forced to either develop an English accent or take roles in dramas as drunks and criminals. A new generation of Scots is both promoting the Scots language and creating a new and exciting Scottish culture and identity.

THERE is a wealth of talent in the country and a new broadcasting service will fund new acting talent, journalism, film and promote a Scottish music industry. When she was culture secretary, Fiona Hyslop predicted the staff of a Scottish Broadcasting Service could double in size of what it is now, rising to around 6000, the same number as in Ireland.

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In May 2021, the SNP were elected with 47.7% of the vote and a clear mandate for an independence referendum. In 2016, David Cameron used a vote of just 36.9% as a mandate for his EU referendum. If Boris Johnson continues to deny Scotland a Section 30 order, then not only will his actions be seen to be against the spirit of democracy, he will show the world, whose trade the Conservatives so desperately need, that they are a party of hypocrites.

Westminster is rich from the proceeds of Scotland’s endeavours and assets. It is reluctant to hand back the honey pot, but as a country we have a right to hold a referendum. We will have our say and for a third time Westminster will try to browbeat Scots into submission using fear tactics. Not only will Scots again need to pick out fact from propaganda and the truthful from the untrustworthy, but keep an eye on the media with a view to also choosing broadcasters for an independent Scotland.

As we discovered with the big lie regarding pensions in 2014, The Vow in the same year and “We send the EU £350 million a week”, plastered across a big red bus in 2016, disinformation is dangerous and we must be careful whom we trust.

The bias of the media displayed in 2014 was appalling but the legacy they have left behind is a broader-minded, more enlightened electorate. Today, the majority of Scots can see that a future in the Union would be an uncertain future, while Scotland in Scottish hands has the potential to develop a booming export market, introduce hand-picked legislation and develop Scottish talent and culture. We have all the ingredients of a successful country.

The upcoming referendum will be the third chance Scotland will have had to find a better way to serve its people. For the future of all Scots, young and old, this time we must make the right decision. A third chance to reject the policies imposed by the political Union with England and Wales. Once again voting to stay in the UK can promise nothing but an uncertain future.

An independent Scotland can look forward to a future that enjoys the best of both worlds. A healthy relationship with its immediate neighbours, a booming export market and legislation hand-picked to suit our own individual needs.

A self -governing Scotland is a world free of shackles such a Trident imposed upon it against its will in the past. It will be a free Scotland.