IN the 1935 General Election, my grandmother, Mary Macdonald, stood as a Liberal candidate in the then Kinross and West Perthshire constituency in opposition to the Conservative candidate, the Duchess of Atholl. Granny campaigned on a platform of Home Rule, of land reform and support for the League of Nations; she railed against the depopulation of rural Scotland, of the price of housing, the arms race, the centralising forces that took power away from parish councils and the decline of the Gaelic-speaking heartland.

Were she to be able to return to Scotland in 2022, she would be aghast at the lack of progress in the last 87 years in all of these areas. How could I look her in the eye and say that we had tried every means at our disposal to rectify these situations apart from taking the one option that placed the solutions in our own hands? Will I explain to her that we were “feart” in 2014, that people wanted certainty in an uncertain world?

There are those living in Scotland in the 21st century who appear to demand assurance over a prospective independent Scotland which does not apply to any other part of either their lives or their political judgements. Yet, just as an individual chooses independence over dependence, as he or she flies the parental nest, because its promise of benefit and satisfaction outweighs the risks involved, so uncertainty must inevitably be recognised as being part of the independence equation. For the vast majority of proponents of self-determination, acceptance of risk is, however, based on a rational perspective that has certainty at the core of its proposition.

READ MORE: How the Union has destroyed Scotland’s ability to believe in itself

This essay is rooted in such credence and is aimed at the unsure sceptic. In touching on the democratic, economic, cultural, international and social arguments for independence, I can focus on these areas of certitude in the knowledge that in doing so the vision produced is neither as radical and exciting as it could be nor as uncertain as some commentators would have one believe.

The irrefutable democratic case is that the people living in Scotland will, on independence, get the government that they vote for 100% of the time. That this simple principle needs stating is a reflection of the fact that 57% of post-war British governments have been rejected by Scottish voters at the polls.

If less certain than the above, there is also the opportunity to base a newly independent country on a written constitution – something enjoyed by all but six countries in the world. The advantages and indeed increasing necessity for such a document is underlined by the almost weekly disregard for the rule of law displayed by the current Westminster government.

It can also be taken as read that an unelected second chamber will be avoided (each of the 791 peers in the House of Lords costs the taxpayer £88,000 per annum) and that the opportunity to frame the type of society and the principles upon which it is based would be a necessary part of the independence prospectus.

Given its current electoral system, it is also likely that a proportional system of voting will be in place that will ensure that all voices are represented in parliament, a move which should help to engage the electorate and increase democratic participation.

It also goes without saying that Whitehall would no longer be able to impose its will on the wishes of the Scottish Parliament over issues such as immigration and drug consumption rooms, currently reserved to Westminster.

More accessible to its population through the simple expediency of geography, the population of Scotland can look forward to a rejuvenation of the fundamentals of democracy, so jaded and threatened by Westminster’s ranking as 19th equal with Spain in the Economic Intelligence Unit’s 2010 Index of Democracy. The opportunity to reinvigorate, re-examine and re-think the engagement, accountability and effectiveness of our institutions and systems is a significant positive. Shackled to a sclerotic Westminster system, hidebound by tradition but drifting further and further away from the best of its legacies, Scotland cannot readily devise structures that seek to engage all its citizens in taking responsibility for the health of its democracy.

The National: Vector illustration of a fountain pen on a blue background with white letters below it..

There is a dryness to economic arguments, disfigured by contrasting forecasts, distortion of facts and unreliable prognostications, that is a turn-off to many undecided voters, who find it hard to discern who is telling the truth in a post-truth world. I can quote statistics and provide analysis with the best of them, but what can be stated with a degree of certainty?

Firstly, there are advantages in being a small country, as evidenced by the fact that eight out of the 10 most prosperous countries in the world are of similar size or are smaller than Scotland. The reasons for this are numerous, many of them articulated in EF Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful, but in essence, the arguments are that in the 21st century, it is small, responsive, innovative economies with tight lines of communication and closely inter-linked business, civil and government agencies that are best placed to thrive in the rapidly changing technologic world that is characteristic of the modern era. What is unique about a Scotland that is blessed by being rich in natural resources, has an educated population and a thriving university and research community, that would prevent it from thriving in like manner?

Secondly, if Scotland was the economic basket case that so many naysayers describe, why on earth would you not want to change the circumstances that produced such a situation? Indeed, why would Westminster wish to retain its hold on a country that is a drain on its resources if that was really the case?

READ MORE: James Doleman: Scotland's not listening to Union flag, 'make Brexit work' Labour

Thirdly, Scotland would make decisions to suit its particular circumstances in order to address the weaknesses and maximise the strengths of its economy. If it requires immigrants to support its tourism, care and agricultural sectors, it would not be constrained by a southern neighbour who controls these variables and, understandably, has different political and financial priorities.

Fourthly, Scotland’s budget would not be dependent on English spending decisions through Barnett formula “consequentials”. Professor Allyson Pollock, director of Newcastle University’s Institute of Health and Society, commented on the Health & Social Care Act 2012, which allows NHS trusts in England and Wales to generate 49% of income from private patients: “As the NHS is being dismantled in England, funding is being withdrawn from both the NHS and social care, which means that that translates into the Barnett formula into the countries that still have a national health service.”

The fifth inarguable fact is that Scotland would no longer have to have a proportion of its taxes spent on spending priorities of marginal or arguable benefit to Scotland – HS2, Crossrail, Trident renewal, aircraft carriers, foreign wars, an upgrade to the Houses of Parliament and Brexit illustrate the point. A proportional share of such expenditure would equate to well over £40 billion.

Finally, whether it be through an enlarged Scottish Investment Bank or via an increase in civil servants or government administrators, both direct and indirect employment would benefit.

Whilst the above arguments are irrefutable, discussion of Scotland’s place in Europe, currency or borders are more contentious. There are solutions to all these issues, as the Slovak and Czech Republics found to their benefit in the 1992 Velvet Divorce. The 34 countries that have become independent since 1990 have all found answers to suit their circumstances. None of them wish to return to their former status. However, the focus of this presentation is on what cannot be refuted. I have, for example, eschewed the likely outcome that Scotland would probably not only strive for a more equal society, but would probably achieve it. After all, it was in Life After The State that Dominic Frisby states: “The more power is concentrated, the less wealth is spread. In a small nation there is a limit to how big state institutions can grow. Monitoring becomes more efficient, it is harder to obfuscate, so there is more transparency and accountability and less waste. Change is easier to implement, making a nation flexible, dynamic and competitive. There is less of a wealth gap between those at the top and the bottom.”

ON most measures of social health, Scotland compares poorly with the rest of the UK which, in turn, compares badly with most other developed countries. This is a complex issue of multiple causality. Whilst there does appear to be a difference in approach north and south of the Border, it cannot be guaranteed in perpetuity, nor by definition does a more poverty and health-focused approach guarantee success in tackling the many issues facing Scotland.

What can be suggested with a certain degree of credibility, however, is that no future independent Scottish Government will have its approach undermined by Westminster control over key levers of power, nor will it be able to use such constraints as an excuse for lack of focus or progress. To me, it is the necessity for the country to mature and take responsibility for all its decisions that is at the heart of the matter in hand. I can cite numerous international examples of where that has happened and

can currently only look on with envy as so many of our European neighbours outperform us on virtually every meaningful social index.

The key element when looking at the international context is whether Scotland would be better represented as part of the UK or by standing on its own feet. The fact that the number of independent states in the UN has grown from 52 in 1945 to 195 today suggests that this is a likely outcome. Every country from the USA to a South Pacific micro-state cedes sovereignty in order to co-operate internationally, but there is little evidence to suggest that Scotland as part of the UK has any significant say in influencing negotiations – indeed, everything that has happened in the past decade points to the opposite conclusion.

​READ MORE: Undecided on independence? Here's what the choice is really between

Put simply, an independent Scotland would have no more nor less influence than any other small to medium sized country and I’m just fine with that. I do not wish to be defined by attitudes shaped by a shared imperial past, but look forward to having our own distinctive contribution to make on the international stage. And if, as is likely, that terminates Scotland’s hosting of a nuclear deterrent and its tacit agreement to an arguably delusional defence policy, then that also sits comfortably, I suspect, with the majority of Scottish residents.

If my grandchildren are not to face a groundhog-day scenario recognised by Mary Macdonald, surely something different is required. The status quo ties Scotland to a future economy that, apart from its parlous state and huge debts, is dangerously dependent on the fragile and volatile financial services sector; it binds us to a future where social inequality and the dominance of a wealthy oligarchy and narrow governing elite will increasingly distort decision-making and grate against a social consensus north of the Border that is diverging from Westminster at an ever-increasing rate.

The people of Scotland have a genuine opportunity to establish something different and more exciting; to start anew and to establish the sort of society that reflects its values, not those of others; a society where decisions can be taken by the people that know it best and where it can face up to the responsibilities of its own actions. The chance to re-invigorate our politics, economics, civic society and institutions is within our hands and to be once again ignored should the Scottish people vote for dependence encapsulated by a clearly defective system of government is hard to contemplate. Dependence is relying on others; independence is freedom. The choice is stark and it appears self-evident that it is the latter position that presents a more attractive proposition.

​READ MORE: Here's my pitch to undecided indyref2 voters as a psychologist

It was Edward Gibbon that said “the first of earthly blessings is independence”. It is with such blessings that we can own solutions and properly tackle the issues and injustices that so vexed my grandmother all those years ago. There are certainties here that offer hope; the uncertainties should not be allowed to douse that beacon. Curtis Tyrone Jones wrote in Guru In The Glass that, “the head is bigger but the heart is infinitely more powerful”.

I’m not sure of the veracity of that assertion, but the engagement of both brings me to the same conclusion – it is only with independence that Scotland will be able to address its deficiencies with honesty and realise the unquestionable potential of its people.