ONE of the grand canards of Scotland’s debate with itself goes thus: “Under the status quo, Scotland is performing so badly that it can’t hope to do any better and must stay as it is now.”

This is most famously expressed with regards to the performance of the public finances. Every region and nation of the UK outside the south-east and possibly east of England have significant deficits. This is because the UK economic model flies on the one engine of the south-east and the rest of the country underperforms its potential.

This is a significant contributor to the long-term relative economic decline of the UK. Scotland performs relatively well against UK regions but that is the wrong comparator set. We should be comparing ourselves to the best performing small advanced economies in the world.

That the UK is one of the most territorially unequal countries in the developed world is a contributing factor in that self-same decline.

If you think this is as good as it gets then I humbly suggest you would benefit from a review of your own self-belief, self-respect and for that matter your belief and respect for those you share society with.

This same trope and thought process kicks in with respect to trade statistics. We are told that because more than 60% of Scotland’s trade is with the rest of the UK, it must be part of the same government and state as its major trading partner. Canada trades 75% of its exports to the United States but manages to retain its independence.

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Ireland has diversified its trade dependence on the UK market to its own economic benefit. It now exports almost 34% of GDP to the rest of the EU compared to 8.4% for Scotland. If you see that as a constraint rather than an opportunity for Scotland, then you need to look again.

What is true on any outcome of politics is that growing our trade with the rest of the world is an urgent priority for policymakers now.

The idea that sustainable success can be built when the bulk of our trading eggs are in the basket of one of the slowest-growing developed economies in the world is, at best, limited.

Of course, we must minimise any barriers to that trade with the rest of the UK, as is self-evident and argued clearly in the report of the Sustainable Growth Commission.

But long-term success will come from growing our trade with the rest of Europe and the wider world where the market is exponentially larger and growing much faster. At least four of the 50 report recommendations focused on this topic, including the call for a substantial and focused export growth strategy.

So much of our debate is about the limits created by the state we are in now rather than ambition for what we can become. Rome was not built in a day, of course, but it was built.