Here’s the evidence that shows Scotland would thrive outside the UK

“Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
“Is it easier for you to buy the things you need than it was four years ago?”
“Is the country as respected throughout the world as it was?”
“Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as it was four years ago?”

These are questions that were famously asked in the run-up to a watershed American presidential election when the country was in decline.

What if we ask those questions of the UK today?

With the cost-of-living crisis, energy price hikes, and national insurance tax rise, are you better off than you were four years ago? And what about four years before that?

Following the UK Government’s abysmal handling of post-Brexit trade, is it easier for you to buy things in the shops than four years ago?

With Brexit, the threat of trade wars and breaking international law, the treatment of Northern Ireland and plans to join pariah states outside the European Convention on Human Rights, is the UK as respected throughout the world as it was?

Are we as safe or strong? No, we are not, but another, better future is possible.

Last week, the Scottish Government launched the first in a series of papers, titled Building a New Scotland, which, together, will form a prospectus for an independent Scotland.

It looks at where we are now as part of the UK and how the UK performs across a range of economic and social indicators relative to that of ten neighbouring European countries.

The evidence shows the UK is in a bad place and on the path to further relative decline.

We see that, through making better choices as independent nations, the ten countries examined have greater wealth, much less inequality, smaller gender pay gaps, less poverty and better social provision.

What’s more, nine out of the ten were previously part of another nation or ruled by a neighbouring country – and none have chosen to go back.

Those uncertain about independence are looking for answers on how an independent Scotland would work.

Many of them have bleak predictions about the future of the UK, but they are still unsure what steps Scotland could take to make independence work.

I truly understand this. However, if you are one of those people, please do read these papers as they come out.

The visions laid out in these papers are not pipe dreams. They provide facts about, in this case, comparable independent countries that have made better choices – choices that would be available to an independent Scotland – and that have thrived.

This paper and the others will show the other choice that you have. By being independent and making better decisions for our people, we will be better off than under Westminster rule.

Scotland already decided in last year’s Holyrood election that we should have a choice about the country’s independent future: a record majority of pro-referendum MSPs were returned to the Scottish Parliament.

The parties that opposed a referendum lost the election. That is why the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems are in opposition.

With Labour now agreeing with the Tories about Brexit and selling out on free movement too, we must embrace a better future as an independent member state of the European Union.

This article originally appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News.