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Scotland’s Future

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th September 2013.

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Photo of Christian Allard Christian Allard Scottish National Party

I will come to that later in my speech, if Mr Findlay does not mind.

As someone who comes from a different origin, I think that it is extremely important that we recognise that the independence debate is for the people who live and work here. This is not the first time that I have been involved in such a debate. In 1997, I voted for the Parliament to come into being. I did the same thing in each of the Scottish elections that took place thereafter. It is extremely important that we change the tone of the debate. When we talk about proud Scots and nationalism, we are talking about the people who live in Scotland and who contribute to society here; we are not talking about ethnicity, people’s nationality, where they were born or where they come from. Regardless of a person’s accent or religion, the fact that they live in Scotland means that they have the right to vote. We need to respect that.

We must project into the future. The vote in the referendum is a vote for our children and grandchildren and their children. As someone who has three grown-up daughters—they are Scottish daughters, of course; they consider themselves to be Scottish rather than French—I think that the independence debate is extremely important in helping women to understand what kind of future they can have in Scotland. The vote in 2014 and the debate on it can lead to the empowerment of people and, in particular, the empowerment of women. Some on the Labour benches talk about making things better for women in Scotland and we can make a start in that respect in September 2014.

Given the movement for independence that we have seen, I can easily imagine an overwhelming yes vote in 2014. Why? There are groups such as women for independence, which, in the way it has expressed itself, has been fantastic right from the start of the campaign and has shown us the kind of future that women can have in a new and independent Scotland.

Many other groups have been involved in the campaign. For example, I created the French for independence group, which is important and is open to anyone who speaks French. Indeed, I am sure that we would be happy for our new MSP to join us should he change his mind at any time.

When the farming for yes group, which was formed in the Borders, came to the Turriff agricultural show, I was humbled by the number of farmers who came to ask questions and wanted to be part of the debate and see the kind of future that farming could have after a yes vote. The same is true of the fishing sector. On Friday morning, I will be at the Peterhead fish market and will no doubt get the same questions that I got at the Turriff show. All of these sectors, which are important for exports and, indeed, our future, must be able to consider what things will be like in a new Scotland.

Of course, groups supporting independence have also emerged from the different political parties. Some think that a yes vote is only for nationalists—however one defines a nationalist. I have to say that I do not define myself as a nationalist; if I wanted to do that, I would define myself as French. It is more than that. It is about all the people of Scotland, no matter what party they come from or whoever they vote for. Who would have thought that there would be, for example, a Conservatives for independence group? There is even a group for Liberal Democrats—there are still some left. Of course, none of them is in the chamber at the moment.

There are plenty of other such groups. Mr Findlay is totally right that on the left—