Being independent means a lot of different things to each and every one of us. For some, becoming independent is when we get our first car, or our first home. Or perhaps when we start our own family. It is the point we take responsibility for our own future and our own success. Yes, there are ups and downs, but we plan, we prepare, we take out insurance and we get through even the most difficult times.
Being an independent country is much the same. Today, we are going through a once-in-a-lifetime financial crisis across the globe. Countries like Norway, which saved some of its offshore energy wealth, are riding out the storm. Others, like Sweden (which had its own banking crisis in the 1990s) had already learnt the lessons and have returned quickly to growth. And even Ireland, which was hit badly in 2008, today sits above the UK in world wealth and wellbeing league tables.
As we move to independence, Scotland too has learnt some hard lessons. And, as an independent country we will be able to put what we have learned into action. We will be able to protect ourselves better.
We can save just a portion of our offshore energy wealth – including future revenues from offshore renewables – to create a sovereign wealth fund. By saving and investing just some of the high revenues of today we can build a rainy day fund to protect us in the future.
In a world facing shortages of energy, water, land and food, we are blessed with all of these resources, which means we are well placed to meet the challenges of the future.
As an independent country, we can speak with our own voice, choose our own direction and contribute in our own distinct way. With independence we remain part of the wider family of nations on these Isles.
And, as a member of the European Union, we will have access to the world’s largest free market. We are able to work with others, as equals, to face shared challenges and to ensure our mutual safety and defence. We will be part of a close partnership of nations – independent countries that look out for each other because it is in all our interests.
Of course, just like a first home, it requires effort to make the country as good as we know it can be. But that hard work is worth it, because we are building a Scotland that is better than what we have today: a more successful Scotland that we can pass on proudly to our children and their children – and they will thank us.