IT is time to put my cards on the table: I am a Unionist. No matter how much of a “proud Scot” one might be, or however much one might dream of Bannockburn, our future is at stake and we have to be realistic. We cannot get away from the facts.

First fact: Scotland is too small to be independent. In population, Scotland is just over twice the size of Latvia and barely 10 times larger than Malta. In land area, Scotland is only about as big as the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg put together.

Small states cannot flourish in an ­interconnected world. Their internal markets are too small to support a diversified, resilient economy. They cannot defend themselves. They are isolated, separate.

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Second fact: Scotland is too poor to be ­independent. Its Human Development Index score is only a little higher than that of France and Austria. If separate and isolated, it would only be worse. No country could survive under those conditions.

Third fact: Scotland is too stupid to be ­independent. Well, not stupid, exactly, but ­craven, cowardly and compromised. How can a country govern itself when it is ­characterised – at least as far as its professional middle classes are concerned – with such servility, excess of caution, lack of initiative, shirking of ­responsibility, dull conformity, and a desire to carve out a comfortable niche rather than rock the boat?

Gutless passivity abounds. The local library that provides a place of such joy to my seven-year-old daughter – and to many others besides – is threatened by council cuts, but the Save Our Libraries campaign, run by a small group of concerned parents, struggles to break through the soggy blanket of “Oh, never mind … wait and see … well, it’s such a shame but I’m sure they know best” that hangs like a cloud over the M&S car park.

With such a paucity of spirit, we would need an apprenticeship in independence, and ­training wheels for our democracy. It would take at least a generational change to recover what Scotland was once famed for: A lively and robust democratic passion.

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So there you have it: Scotland is too wee, too poor, and too stupid to be independent. Our best hope is to cling to the Union. Only the ­Union can enable a small country like Scotland to defend itself and have relevance on the world stage.

Only the Union can provide for our trade, ­economic clout, and future growth. Only the Union can guarantee our institutions and ­protect our democracy.

The question is: “Which Union?”.

In 1707, the Scottish elite – with a certain amount of palm-greasing and arm-twisting – decided that the Union with England was their best bet.

We have enjoyed the happy consequences of that Union ever since, with such glorious achievements as the expansion of sheep farming in the Highlands, where once inefficient clachans and crofts stood. This really helped the settlement of Canada and New Zealand.

Thanks to the benefits of 300 years of ­British rule, Scotland is now free from stock ­exchanges, nationally owned banks, and ­major ports capable of handling import and export trade. There are no steelworks and only ­vestigial shipyards. Soon there will be no oil refineries.

But mercifully there is another Union – the ­European Union.

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Last week, the Scottish Government launched the latest in its series of Building a New ­Scotland papers, outlining the case for Scottish ­membership of the European Union.

It is a compelling pitch. Without doubt, ­Scotland’s best medium- to long-term future is to be a member of the European Union.

The European Union enables states like ­Scotland to protect one another, to act together, to trade freely, to create common frameworks within which close cooperation can take place.

The European Union is not a “super-state” run from Brussels. It gives a lot more ­autonomy to its member states than ever the United ­Kingdom gave to Scotland. It is structured in a way that recognises Scotland as a nation and gives Scotland a place at the top table.

The first step is to get out of the old ­British ­Union – the one that now keeps us ­separate, ­isolated and under-developed. British ­separation from Europe has been a disaster. It has ­damaged the economy, putting up ­barriers to trade, ­placing burdens upon businesses ­trying to export.

More than that, British separatism closes our minds. It keeps us outside of the Horizon (research co-operation) and Erasmus (student exchange) schemes, shutting us off from wider currents of European thought.

Scotland can reverse all that.

Independence in Europe is not a ­contradiction. Europe is what makes ­independence for ­countries like Scotland possible.

Scotland cannot stand alone. We need to be in a Union. But we choose who we want to stand with. That choice should be clear – out with the British Union; in with the European Union.