THE latest Building A New Scotland publication by the Scottish Government, which was released on Monday, shows that the independence movement has done its homework when it comes to foreign policy and security.

The paper, titled An Independent Scotland’s Place In The World, outlines quite well what type of foreign policy actor an independent Scotland would be: grounded in pragmatism and best intentions. As with all the other papers in the series, I highly recommend reading it – not least because our opponents will also be scrutinising it too!

One of the reasons I am particularly interested in foreign affairs is because ultimately we are all interconnected in a globalised world. The war in Ukraine has not only provoked security fears about a revanchist Russia but also raised global grain prices, as well as increasing input costs for farmers when it comes to fertiliser and fuel – which in turn, leads to higher food prices for all of us.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to major blockages in supply chains meaning delays in goods reaching our shores from other markets, whether it be your Amazon purchases or your car parts. Go further back to the 1970s, and many will remember the oil crisis which led to skyrocketing energy costs for UK households, a theme wearily reminiscent familiar today.

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The Athenian statesman Pericles is reported to have said: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” Nowadays one could easily rephrase that to: Even if you have no interest in what happens in Asia, South America or the Middle East, events on these shores often have ramifications for us at home too.

This is where the latest independence paper comes in. By outlining how an independent Scotland will act in the world, we can be a point of reassurance where there is so much instability.

Arguably, the greatest perk of independence is being able to speak for ourselves in the world, instead of being reliant on a dismissive UK to consider what is in our interest.

So it was encouraging to read of explicit support for Nato membership, and an outline of how Scottish armed forces would look to operate, as well as an explanation of our stance on nuclear weapons and how we will support efforts for their global disarmament.

Away from the stick of hard military power, the carrot of soft power through enhanced diplomatic representation in key places around the globe, as well as a recommitment to spending 0.7% of our gross national income on international development, shows that we take our value of being a good global citizen seriously.

In a similar vein, we will also seek good relations across these islands, building on shared historic ties, to craft a better future for the nations inhabiting these isles.

This would not be an Alyn Smith column though without highlighting what I consider to be the crux of our argument that will be decisive in bringing people from no to yes: an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union.

The National:

Being part of the EU means being part of the world’s largest single market, a global A-team which works together for their common interests, giving them increased clout when it comes to negotiating trade deals. One need only look at the difference between the different agreements negotiated by the UK and the EU post-Brexit to see the difference being part of the larger, more sensible club and one that has run by the Tories for 14 years.

Another crucial aspect of our future relationship with the EU is being part of its Common Foreign and Security Policy. This contributes to the EU’s objectives of preserving peace, strengthening international security, promoting international co-operation, as well as developing and consolidating democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It does all of this through financing civilian stabilisation missions, providing EU Special Representatives and taking actions in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament.

Within its umbrella also sits the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, which allows the EU to play a key role in peace-keeping operations, conflict prevention and strengthening of international security – all values that would be aligned with an independent Scotland’s interests.

Moreover, with the EU’s Strategic Compass for Defence and Security also developing over the past couple of years, Scotland can play an important role in working alongside allies to provide a shared assessment of the strategic environment in which the EU is operating and how to best respond.

With the more uncertain world we’re all facing, it’s important that we make clear to our friends and allies how an independent Scotland will look to act in the world.

At home, we need to continue to work hard to persuade our friends and families why their best future lies with independence; in the wider world, we must show how we will use it responsibly.