The Future of Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:41 am on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party 10:41 am, 29th March 2007

No.

Scotland and England are part of the European Union, and we want to continue—we will continue—a close working relationship with the Government in London, because England is our largest neighbour. We should not be subservient to the Government in London—there should be equality of esteem between our Governments.

We support the approach that the nordic countries take. We support the development of the council of the isles, because many issues in Europe and further afield will continue to have a British dimension. We should unashamedly work not only with the Government in London on those issues, but with the devolved Governments in Cardiff and Belfast and the independent Government in Dublin.

That is the kind of future that we envisage. It is nonsense to use the words "separatist" or "isolationist". Indeed, one of the reasons why I am a nationalist is that I feel too isolated at the moment. I feel that, whenever I want to reach the wider world, I have to go through London—often physically, if not legally. I want to be able to reach out to the world directly in every sense. I want Scotland to play the same role in dealing with poverty in the developing world that Norway, for example, plays. Norway is one of the most successful contributors.

It is significant that none of the big countries has ever provided the Secretary-General of the United Nations and I do not think that any of them ever will. The position of small countries in the international community is such that they occupy a special niche. They can do things that big countries cannot do. That is why l believe that Scotland the nation can make a much bigger contribution as Scotland the state.

I do not have time to go into issues such as shipbuilding, but there are clear answers to the questions. Of course we will make mistakes, just as the devolved Parliament has made mistakes, but they will be our mistakes and we will be responsible for our destiny. No nation can wish for more. No people can wish for more than for their freedom, their sovereignty and the right to decide their future.