Scottish independence a ‘gift to the world’

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A YES vote in the independence referendum will be a “great gift to the world”, Holyrood Education Secretary Mike Russell has claimed.

If voters back independence on September 18, Mr Russell said the ballot would stand as an example of how major constitutional change could be achieved without the need for conflict.

Mike Russell in the main chamber at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

Mike Russell in the main chamber at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

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He also insisted that an “outward-looking, international and engaged Scotland” would be “good for the wider world”.

Mr Russell, who was addressing a conference of the European Consortium for Political Research at Glasgow University, said that while “we live in a troubled world”, Scotland had a “rare opportunity for our citizens to come together to decide our future in an impeccably democratic manner”.

He said: “We can’t force the world to change. That illusion always ends in tears. But we can, by our words and more significantly by our deeds, set an example to the rest of the world to show how deciding fundamental political and constitutional issues can be done democratically, peacefully, constitutionally, respectfully.

“Scotland has given much to the modern world in terms of invention and innovation. If we do achieve a Yes vote in two weeks’ time, that demonstration of a peaceful path to change will be another great gift to the world, particularly a world in conflict. It will show that peaceful democratic change is best and can be achieved.

“It will also show ultimately that power lies not in elites or establishments but in the people themselves, for the process of change in Scotland in the past few years has been driven and steered by a grassroots movement, the like of which no politician alive today in this country has seen before.”

The referendum has resulted in “unprecedented” international interest in Scotland, the Education Secretary said.

He added: “The referendum has internationalised Scotland. It has become evident to the people of Scotland that we could, and indeed should, have a part to play in the affairs of Europe and the world if we wish it, that we do matter as a country, that presidents and people are engaged with what we are doing.”

Mr Russell said that this “heightened international profile” had helped promote Scotland overseas and would leave the country “better able to achieve international inward investment, better able to attract people worldwide to focus on Scotland in terms of their plans for the future”.

He said: “The referendum has given Scotland a peek at the possibilities Scotland has as a global nation.”