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Agenda: Myopic look at independence that sidelines the big global questions

What have we learned this week about the referendum campaign?

We were reminded of something that most of us already knew but which one side had chosen to forget: all nationalisms are different. Irish nationalism is not Scottish nationalism which in turn is a different beast from the bear of Russian nationalism.

Of course, many nationalisms spring from a common well of cultural conceit; but context alters their meaning. Because of that, it was surely unwise for Alex Salmond to laud President Putin for restoring a substantial part of Russian pride. Rejuvenated Russian satisfaction feels a little different if you are gay in Moscow or Ukrainian in Crimea.

The First Minister's interview with GQ Magazine has made welcome news in Moscow but caused problems at home. But that and his speech in Bruges have helpfully forced the issue of Scotland's role in the world back on to the referendum agenda. For that at least, Scotland should be grateful.

Scotland is a member of a unique double union; the Union of the four countries of the United Kingdom and the European Union of 28 nation states. If we vote to leave the first we automatically come out of the second. Rather than leave, we should harness a renewed determination to change Britain and influence Europe. Instead, the SNP offer analogue slogans in a complex digital world. Only for Nationalists is the world straightforward enough to think that, if only Scotland were independent, things would somehow be easier. In truth, the important debates in the world are more complicated and really matter for the future of our country.

The natural resources we rely on are becoming scarce as the global population grows. India produces as many graduates each year as the entire population of Scotland. CO2 emissions have to be cut at a time of unprecedented demand for the goods and services that pollute. The early hope of the Arab Spring is counterbalanced by the despair of Aleppo. From climate change to tax and security to trade, international relations can neither be dealt with by the simplicity of an insouciant smile nor the ease of homespun certainty. With that approach, you to rely upon non-existent legal advice to back up an empty assertion that an independent Scotland would boomerang back into the EU if we left the UK.

It leads to a cul-de-sac strategy of threatening to deny other European countries the right to catch fish swimming in Scottish waters if those countries don't let an independent Scotland back into the EU.

Think about all the challenges the world faces and the role that Scotland can play in dealing with them. It doesn't help Scotland have its way in the world to leave the one country with the unique influence of being in the EU, UN Security Council, Nato, the Commonwealth and the G8. We are a generous people and it doesn't help the world's poorest nations for us to walk out on the UK, the second largest donor of international aid administered by 500 Scots in East Kilbride.

Being part of the third-largest economy in Europe strengthens Scotland's businesses. Scots serving in the UK Armed Forces with the fourth-biggest military budget boost Scotland's heritage of being a force for good. Scotland in the UK means that we are one of only five countries out of 198 in the world with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

When the Security Council and the G8 make the big decisions that affect the entire world, Scotland, as part of the UK, is there at the centre of what matters. The Nationalists want to take us out of that, not because it's good for Scotland but because it fits the logic of the campaign. No more and no less. No country in peacetime history has ever given up that degree of global influence. All of us who are patriots rather than nationalists don't want Scotland to be the first to do so.

The SNP already have decided on the answer that they most care about: Yes. But so fixed are they on that referendum response that they haven't stopped to ask about big questions that the rest of the world is rightly thinking about.

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