The Future of Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:08 am on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat 11:08 am, 29th March 2007

In many respects, the debate has been largely predictable, although it is an important debate and it is good that so many members have been able to contribute.

As a Liberal Democrat, I always consider issues such as this from the perspective of the individual. I focus attention on the individual and on the individual's role in the community and in society, and try to fashion policies that meet the exigencies of the time. I find that that concentrates the mind on not making false choices. That is always a difficulty for political parties. We try to excite the electorate by making promises and writing manifestos that offer a better, brighter future. Occasionally, however, we offer choices and promise a timescale that, if we examine it carefully, is not immediately realisable.

We also offer false choices. I respect the SNP's right to campaign for independence. I was rather surprised to discover only this morning that Alex Neil was campaigning for independence so that he could become the Secretary-General of the United Nations. That may even have come as a surprise to members of the SNP. I respect Alex Neil for that view, but I ask members not to paint a false choice. I ask them not to paint a choice that says that theirs is the only way of expressing nationalism.

I am a Scot, but I do not define my Scottishness by boundaries on a map. My nationality is defined by the history, the characteristics, and the artistic, religious and other developments in which I was born, bred and brought up. When asked what nationality I am, I make it clear that I am a Scot. Anyone witnessing my excited behaviour at Murrayfield might only regret that.