Comparisons with Scandinavia are enlightening. In 1964 Scotland’s population was 5.2 million; 50 years later it is 5.3 million, a tiny 2 per cent increase.
In contrast, Sweden’s population has increased by 28 per cent, Norway’s by 38 per cent and Denmark’s by 19 per cent.
Just matching Denmark’s lower demographic growth rate would have meant a Scottish population today of more than 6 million. Instead tens of thousands of young Scots leave every year and as many as 1.5 million Scots live outside the country.
Everyone has family or friends who say: “I’d love to come home, but there are just not the opportunities.”
I know families whose children have all moved away and for many grandchildren Scotland is known only as an occasional holiday trip. For any other country, the migration of 30 per cent of its people would be a national tragedy.
Instead, we oddly resign ourselves to this “Union dividend” and its impact on innumerable personal relationships.
This week, I travelled to Scotland with my daughter to experience the historic week of the independence referendum. The YouGov weekend poll showed that 60 per cent of Scots under 40 plan to vote for independence.
Without a strong No vote amongst over-65s the result would be in little doubt.
I want to urge all those who have seen many relatives and friends leave – and who may well have grandchildren growing up elsewhere – to give coming generations a better chance. With independence Scotland will be a normal country.
Just like the Scandinavians, we will have the proper economic powers to increase home-grown opportunities for the next generation. The population will grow and Scots abroad will finally see opportunity at home and think seriously about returning. My family will be among them.