THE national movement in Scotland is unwavering in its internationalism and in particular its commitment to rejoining Europe in some meaningful, practical fashion once independence is regained.

That much was clear from Saturday’s pro-indy march in Edinburgh. It was a good-natured affair and there were European national flags on show in profusion. But the demonstration sparked a degree of controversy by linking the demand for Scottish independence explicitly with renewed membership of the European Union. This latter position is by no means universally supported within the movement.

At the post-march rally, Lesley Riddoch – in a boisterous speech – made specific reference to this. She noted that some in the crowd supported membership of the European Free Trade Association (Efta) rather than the EU. Efta is a looser body centred more on free trade than political union, which is the avowed aim of the EU members.

However, the Efta members (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and microscopic Liechtenstein) are linked to the EU single market and Schengen Area open border.

Lesley argued that the precise legal and economic relationship indy Scotland has with Europe should be decided only after we recover our sovereignty and not before. She implied that having the debate now was a distraction. Instead, she proposed postponing the whole matter to a popular referendum held after independence.

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There are two problems with Lesley’s suggestion. First, as matters stand, the first post-independence government is most likely to be formed by the SNP. And that party has already made up its mind on the subject, not only in favour of EU membership but, I hazard, it also has a naively optimistic view of how the institutions of that august body deal with the needs of small countries. Just think of how the Commission railroaded austerity policies on Greece and Ireland.

But secondly, it seems obvious that any independence referendum will see the Unionist camp go to town on the issue of how long it would take indy Scotland to negotiate renewed EU membership. Not to mention Europe’s treaty obligations on member states to join the single currency.

In short, it will be virtually impossible to have indyref2 without having some notion - a priori - of the relationship we want with Europe. Certainly, Lesley is right that any such relationship has to be ratified by a popular vote (along with the new Scottish constitution) after independence.

But that does not help us avoid the thorny issue that folk are hardly likely to vote for independence in the first place unless they have a clue about what it means for trade and security relations. Which brings us back to the EU versus Efta.

Not to mention where the rest of the UK – our biggest trading partner – comes in.

The National: Would Scotland be better served by being in the European Union?

As I understand it, SNP support for EU membership is based on three main planks. First, to restore sovereign Scotland’s ancient standing as a European nation, with the political influence that brings. Second, to gain freer access to European markets and investment.

And three – pragmatically – to secure support for indy among those middle-class professionals who voted to stay in the UK in 2014 but who are appalled by Brexit and Tory populism. All these are commendable. However, each can be achieved – and better – without recourse to EU membership.

Does anyone doubt that Norway or Switzerland are able to take their place boldly among the family of European nations? Yet neither is in the EU nor likely to be. Both are firm in their political, cultural and economic self-confidence. Indeed, that confidence explains their unwillingness to surrender sovereignty to an external body such as the EU – especially given the domination of the European Union by the bigger member states.

Dare I say it, I think the rush to join the EU without any real debate regarding the prospective costs (not just the gains) suggests the traditional Scottish cringe is at work.

Or, put another way, I don’t think the SNP leadership has thought through just what we might have to trade away in order to rejoin. In which circumstances,

I think the SNP might be rushed into giving away too much just to secure the EU membership it promised and covets.

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I’m not talking just about the impact on farming and fishing.

I suspect that when push comes to shove, the SNP leadership would happily sign up to the euro.

As it is, using the pound after independence – still the official SNP line – means having no control in Edinburgh over interest rates, mortgage rates or the Scottish exchange rate versus the euro. Which is bonkers.

Brussels will never agree to that for any length of time. The only thing the SNP have to trade in any monetary negotiations with Brussels is a commitment to join the eurozone quickly. Indeed, I believe that is what some folk in the SNP leadership would prefer, though they won’t say so in public.

What about trade? The only practical way of being in the EU single market for hard goods and simultaneously in a free trade zone with England is to join Efta. It’s not rocket science.

Norway is in the single market but it keeps the freedom to trade with other countries on its own terms. The only proviso is that goods transiting from the rest of the world through Norway into the EU, separately or as components of goods made in Norway, have to pay European tariffs. It’s the same model as Northern Ireland.

Plus Norway keeps its food and fish industries out of the EU Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policy. Anybody in the SNP leadership who tells you we can be in the EU and control our own food, drink and fish sectors is either fibbing or deluded.

Worse still, being inside the EU would make it near-impossible to initiate the sort of industrial policies we need to modernise the Scottish economy.

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According to the SNP government’s own research figures, Scottish labour productivity is only 75% of that achieved in comparable regions in other small economies in Europe.

Our productivity record has actually worsened in the last decade. Yet EU membership will tie our policy hands to regulations designed in Brussels to protect existing French and German multinationals.

What about the voters? Recent polling by YouGov shows support for the SNP among ABC1 middle-class professionals dropping from 46% in May to 35% now. That’s not the same as a decline in support for indy but it suggests the anti-Brexit professional classes are currently more worried about the cost of living and higher mortgages.

Unless the First Minister can start delivering on the economic front, I suspect that marching in support of the EU will have heehaw impact.

And yes, the cost of living crisis is hitting even harder in the poorer sections of our community. They need Scottish independence and the power of state intervention by a Scottish government to rescue them. And they need it soon.

Which is why we must get off our knees, win a majority of seats for indy at the coming General Election, and have the gumption to take our future into our own hands. Neither Brussels nor London, but Scottish independence!