MANY people have asked me why I support Scottish independence, as someone originally from England.

There are many reasons, some of which I have outlined below, but perhaps the greatest is because it gives me hope.

Hope for a better future; a fairer, more stable society; a more compassionate community.

Over a decade ago, we arrived, stressed-out and exhausted, into the astounding beauty of West Aberdeenshire. The serene natural spaces, the intoxicating unpolluted air and the friendly locals combined to capture our hearts. Unforgettable moments of great privilege followed – seeing endangered red squirrels in our own garden, hearing the cry of a majestic soaring eagle overhead or coming upon a deer, with twin babies, on an early morning walk.

Coming from a northern English city, the contrast seemed unreal. We felt a little as if we had stepped back in time, into another world – a world of peaceful communities, very little crime and even less WiFi!

Embracing this wonderful place as home, we vowed never to return to what we once thought of as “the North”. While there, a Westminsterbased government had never appeared to think seriously about our northern community, nor made decisions based on the needs of millions living in those huge, gritty northern cities, desperately in need of champions.

Rationally then, a government made up of people who live in Scotland, elected by voters who live in Scotland, to make decisions specifically to support those who live in Scotland, must surely make much better choices than any based in Westminster, whatever the political party governing in either place.

Some people tell me they don’t support independence because they “don’t like” the SNP or Nicola Sturgeon. This saddens me because that is not what a vote for independence is about. It is about Scotland, as a nation, making its own decisions about its own community, resources and place in the world. It’s about the kind of society we want to be.

Once we become a self-determining nation, the whole Scottish political landscape will change and then we can each consider which political party will make the best government at that time. Like any other democracy.

Others raise concerns about specifics – currency, borders, laws etc. I genuinely am not worried about that. It is inconceivable to me that Scotland with all its advantages, talents, knowledge, resources and creativity will not be up to resolving these questions adequately. Like every other nation. I do not really expect Scotland to be unique in not being able to resolve such issues, do you?

In many ways, highlighting the “risks” of independence was the basis of “Project Fear” – yet if during the last referendum, you believed Westminster or the Union represented stability or the status quo, that is clearly not the case now.

Much has changed since – Brexit, Covid, widening inequality, a cost of living crisis – and not for the better.

While I am concerned for the future of the ordinary people of England, I am relieved that here in Scotland, with independence, we have an alternative path, a different vision for our future, unavailable there.

Ultimately, I support independence because I am a democrat. I believe, fundamentally, that we the People should be governed only by a government we have directly elected and, importantly, a government whom we can therefore vote out – ensuring direct accountability.

That does not yet happen here.

But in a system in which Scotland becomes a full parliamentary democracy, it always would.

This article was published as part of a special-edition paper distributed in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire by the Aberdeen Independence Movement. Click HERE to read more of these articles.