WE need to talk about Malta. We need to talk about Malta again and again. Ruth Wishart did it in Sunday’s edition and The Independence is Normal series did it last week.

Ruth’s plea to us in the independence movement is “to make a sufficiently interesting case to bring the doubters aboard, not even to mention the disinterested”. And given the hopelessness of the prospects in the next few years for the country previously known as Great Britain, what an opportunity.

It can’t be stated enough, but Scotland doesn’t feature in the list of the world’s smallest countries: Vatican City, Monaco,Tuvalu, San Marino, Lichtenstein, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Federation of St Christopher and Nevis, the Maldives and Malta. Malta’s population is approximately 535,064, around the same as that of Edinburgh. With an area of 316 sq km, it would fit into Luxembourg eight times according. Let’s not mention the much smaller Faroe Islands, the autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark with its autonomy over its own fishing waters, independent trade policy and ability to make independent trade deals.

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By contrast Scotland really is a medium-sized European country and sits between Slovakia and Norway in terms of population and between Austria and the Czech Republic and 10 places above Switzerland in area. However, when Scottish maritime waters (six times the land area) are taken into account, and especially with all that implies for resources, clearly it is not too wee to exist as a separate entity. So exactly what size is it that matters? Size of ambition perhaps?

All of us independenistas know that our homeland’s natural resources makes it one of the richest countries in the world with our supplies of water, food, energy and the human capital of our higher education system. We have three of the oldest universities in Europe. It is an incontrovertible fact that few other developed countries are fortunate enough to have such riches. Life sciences, the space sector, renewable energy, the gaming and hospitality industries make up our diversified economy. The unfortunate reality is that our whisky production contributes £6 billion to another country’s balance of payments.

And it is a beautiful place. It is a nation which has made major contributions to mankind both in the humanities and sciences. Its citizens have travelled and explored throughout the world.

It is a country with the capacity to make significant contributions to both the current existential threat of climate change and the impending challenges of international capitalism and wellbeing economics. Drawing from a gene pool fed by John Logie Baird, Alexander Graham Bell, James Clerk Maxwell, Alexander Fleming, why not? Ferry fiascos and deposit return schemes notwithstanding.

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A new energy horizon will create and export energy from onshore and offshore wind, hydrogen generation, solar, pumped hydro to feed an economy at lower cost than the nuclear or gas power plants which our near neighbour uses as energy market benchmarks.

Our marine zone of our new country will be amongst the richest in the world in terms of fisheries, marine biodiversity and carbon capture.

With our country’s independence will come a collective confidence to make political choices that have meaning, and create compassionate governance in a country with a social contract between the nation and its people, in marked contrast to its near neighbour.

Let’s not forget that it is only recently that our fellow countrymen and women have peered from under the comfort blanket of an empire on which the sun never set, so we in the independence cause must maximise our efforts to shine a light in those remaining corners and awaken doubters to the possibilities of our collective effort for collective good.

We might not be too wee, too poor or too rat-infested, but why oh why are we so feart about taking our chances on the international stage for the improvement of the lot of our citizenry?

If this Sunday’s Laura Kuenssberg show is anything to go by, the next General Election for the Westminster parliament will be won by the Busted Flush Party, a party of indeterminate political stripe.

Scotland, like the independent country of Malta, can do so much better than this.

Iain Bruce

AS someone who lived and worked in Malta for three years during the 1970s and who has excellent current family and business connections with Malta today, I absolutely have to draw your attention to a glaring and fundamentally dreadful error in Steph Braun’s article of Thursday September 21. At no time, 1940 or any other, has Malta been invaded by Italy.

Indeed during World War Two Malta suffered and withheld a greater intensity of sustained aerial bombardment by Italy and Germany over months and years than any other part of Britain or its then empire, suffering many innocent civilian casualties as a result. The courage, stoicism, perseverance and ingenuity of the Maltese population as a whole was recognised by the island nation being awarded the George Cross collectively, the symbol of which appears on their flag today (as clearly seen in the photograph accompanying Steph’s article).

I can only speculate what impact this act of defiance and bravery had on the national mood of Malta towards independence thereafter, having withstood such an experience almost alone with only meagre, albeit heroic, support from Britain until the later years of World War Two. Perhaps this brutal but shared experience of survival under the most stressful circumstances persuaded the Maltese people that independence was entirely possible, and indeed desired, from their previous almost absent landlords.

Ewan Macpherson
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