A YES-SUPPORTING Moray councillor who lived and worked in the Netherlands and Denmark has insisted Scotland can learn a lot from the two countries if it becomes independent.

Draeyk Van Der Horn, below, who is a Green councillor for Forres, said he welcomed the Scottish Government’s initial paper in its new prospectus for an independent Scotland.

The 72-page “scene setter” released last month puts the UK against 10 “comparator countries” which ­frequently outperform it across areas such as income equality and poverty rates.

The Netherlands and Denmark are referenced in the paper, with both coming out as wealthier than the UK in 2020 based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per head.

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They also boasted ­lower poverty rates with fewer ­deprived children and pensioners, higher life expectancy and higher average wages, while Denmark had significantly better social mobility – the movement of people within or ­between social strata in society.

In the UK, analysis found it would take on average five generations for those born in low-income families to approach the mean income in the UK. Denmark, meanwhile, was assessed as achieving this change within two ­generations.

Van Der Horn studied in the Netherlands and worked there years later as a chef, while he has also lived in Denmark, making the most of the opportunities presented by the UK ­being part of the EU before Brexit.

He said he noticed how people on low incomes were better supported in both countries in comparison to the UK while people living there had ­different outlooks.

“There was a good amount of ­support for people on reduced ­incomes and that came across the board for people who were minorities or marginalised,” said Van Der Horn.

“If you’re disabled in Denmark or Holland, I think you get a lot more support than you do in the UK, and the same for people with long-term ­illnesses.

“Things are better around gender equality as well. There was much more equanimity between the parents in raising children and more community support around it.

“I think there is more support in these smaller countries because they value that they are a ­smaller country with less population.

“There is definitely a different state of mind when you come from a smaller country. The politicians are closer to their constituents and with decisions that are made, you’re just aware those are going to affect your neighbours much more clearly than if you’re in a large country.

“There are a lot of things ­Scotland would like to be able to do like this – but it can’t because of the ­attachment to the UK Government.”

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The aim of the first paper in what will be a series of documents making a fresh case for ­independence was to prove the proof is in the ­pudding – if these nations of a similar size to Scotland can thrive as independent nations, then why can’t Scotland?

Van Der Horn said he was delighted to see these comparisons being drawn, as he sees it as ­vital Scotland takes inspiration from other nations.

He added: “I believe Scotland can learn a lot from places like the Netherlands and Denmark. I think having the option as a smaller country to be able to more clearly define priorities is key.

“And hopefully in rejoining the EU, that will be important because we will have our own seat. We won’t be hanging on the coattails of ­London and that will be a huge difference in terms of being able to drive change across the continent.

“This paper is great because it ­immediately says to people, if ­Denmark can stand on its own two feet, then why can’t we?

“We’ve embraced things like proportional representation in Scotland – that’s delivered better democracy. Those are things that exist in Denmark too, so Scotland has got a bit of these more progressive things already, but can’t get more because we’re still tied up with Westminster.

“There is a narrative that has been popularised by Westminster that somehow Scotland is like a ­little ­region rather than a nation. So ­highlighting that we’ve got more or less the same population as ­Denmark, and outlining their success, I think makes sense to people.”