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Independence – or Self-determination?

Opinion By Michelle Thomson

Independence is our what the former Minister for Enterprise, Energy & Tourism Jim Mather described as our ‘north star’- a sentiment few would disagree with.

However, the phrase I prefer to use is self-determination.

The dictionary definition of this term is two-fold:

“the process by which a person controls their own life” and “the process by which a country determines its own statehood”

I would argue that both these definitions have relevance when it comes to our independence.

The second definition is obvious – but we must accept at least an element of the first definition.

For us to reach out for independence we accept that the choice is one we should make. This requires ownership and acceptance. Ownership in that it is us that should determine in what way we should live and acceptance that by making these choices we fundamentally shape both our own future and those that come after us. As in life, all of our choices may not always be the best and we should accept that. However, that is not a good enough reason for failing to try.

It also requires fit-for-purpose democracy.

I often laugh at how the Tories view the world when it comes to this future. I have heard many of them claim that hard work and endeavour is key for to them to forge their way in the world. Yet, in the matter of their own future and the future of their children they prefer to abrogate responsibility to others. When it gets to the matter of determining how they should live, and the opportunities that their children should be given they are happy to give the choices away to their nearest competitor - and then complain when those choices hinder them.

I joined the SNP aged 16 having never understood why only Scotland, unique in all the world it would appear, is to be de-barred from self-determination.

I was always clear it was about choices; how we live and how we give to our society. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a country to form a society.

Independence also requires thought: independent thought. Some have expressed dismay at what I consider healthy debate across our wider movement. The SNP has had a long tradition of discussion and debate. We all agree that it must be respectful, but it would not be a healthy situation if we were all to agree all of the time (or even to pretend that we do).

This is our future. Let us encourage independent thought, let us celebrate self-determination and pull together respectfully to meet the aims of the SNP - independence and the furtherance of Scotland’s interests.

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