THE eagle has landed and the starting gun fired. Yesterday saw the launch of the Scottish Government’s highly-anticipated white paper on independence in the modern world. And boy, does it live up to expectations!

This paper demonstrates conclusively that the UK does not work for Scotland and how we can do better with independence in Europe. This is perhaps obvious to many readers of this paper but there are many of our friends and neighbours who still require further persuasion and evidence. Remember, to win we need to persuade not ourselves, but the people who are as yet unconvinced.

Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Austria, Belgium are all countries of a similar size to Scotland, and are all making a success of their independence. Taking an internationalist approach, this paper demonstrates conclusively that the UK is an outlier in Western and Northern Europe in how badly governed it is.

READ MORE: Home Office Rwanda flight GROUNDED – as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issues warning

Just about every metric that matters to people’s lives shows the destructive impact that the Union itself, not just successive Tory, Liberal and Labour UK governments, has had over decades of economic, political and social mismanagement. The comparator countries used in the paper are wealthier, with lower levels of income inequality, poverty and gender inequality. They experience higher social mobility, higher productivity, higher expenditure on research and development, as well as higher business investment.

This is no co-incidence.

I previously served on the Foreign Affairs committee of the European Parliament whilst now I for the moment serve as the SNP’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson at Westminster. Part of what has made those experiences so fascinating is that I have been able to see first-hand how other countries with similar geography and demographics to Scotland do things differently and, far more often than not, far better than the UK.

The independence paper makes reference to concrete examples of this. Sweden has Job Security Councils (JSC) which are a social partner-led initiative to assist workers at risk of redundancy retrain for new opportunities. As of 2019, nine out of 10 active job-seeking clients found new jobs, entered education or training or became self-employed within seven months of their initial contact with the JSC. Around 7% of clients started their own businesses whilst 68% achieve an equal or higher salary earned in the job they were forced to leave.

Denmark takes a consensus-driven approach to economic development as exemplified by the Danish Disruption Council. This body met several times between 2017 and 2018 and brought together government, business, unions and academia to ensure the Danish model evolved to meet the technological challenges of the 21st century. Denmark now currently tops the EU Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index.

In contrast to the short-termism endemic to the UK’s approach to business, Denmark also has industrial foundations whereby the controlling stake in the company is donated to a foundation. This ensures a long-term approach by design and means they tend to have higher accounting profitability, outstanding reputations for social responsibility, higher returns on their foreign direct investment as well as being more likely to be active in research and development.

The National: National Extra Scottish politics newsletter banner

These are just three examples from the paper but look around the world and there are ideas bursting out of everywhere. Scotland’s baby-box came about as a result of Finland’s success with the policy.

Working alongside the UN’s trade body, UNCTAD, Sweden produced a “Trade and Gender Toolbox” which outlined methods for assessing the effects of trade policy initiatives on women and gender equality. Both the Netherlands and Finland have started trials on universal basic income. The list goes on and on.

Perhaps one of the things that makes this paper so great is that it is a welcome breath of fresh air from the UK’s Brexiteering bombastic rhetoric. Instead of waving flags and slinging slogans, the independence paper provides hard, cold evidence of the UK’s failings. Unlike UK Government papers which seem to sing “Rule Britannia 2.0” it humbly admits that there are other countries doing things better and that we should follow suit. By taking an honest, objective look at where things could be improved, Scotland is positioning itself into a position to make a success of its independence.

So we will continue with getting on with the day job while also working towards the future. The UK’s archaic institutions are crumbling and in their place we are building something new. We have a wealth of potential, a country bursting with ideas and a citizen body motivated to see Scotland play its part as a good global citizen. Independence in Europe as a wealthier, happier and fairer country is coming and I’m looking forward to continuing to help Team Scotland get there.