AHEAD of this week’s SNP conference, 50 Scots issued a “Declaration for Independence” which laid out the principles for a “new and better Scotland”. But Scottish people who are concerned about independence deserve an alternative. So, let’s look at what the 50 writers, academics and actors said shall we? And then, perhaps, we can come up with a declaration of our own. An alternative view. For want of a better phrase: a Declaration of Anti-Independence.

But first, it’s worth going through the pro-independence statement in a bit of detail because there are clues to where the yes campaign is still going wrong if it wants to attract more no voters. The big problem with the yes side in 2014 was that it was aspirational but economically unrealistic, and the SNP has tried to learn the lessons by ditching some of its more improbable ideas, such as a reliance on oil; it has also talked about the need to reduce Scotland’s debts. Sadly, there is no such realism in the Declaration for Independence.

On the generalities, it’s absolutely fine. Scotland should be open and democratic. Yup. No individual should be oppressed because of their race or gender, etc. Yup, yup. Everyone should be caring, kindly and neighbourly. Yup, yup, yup. These are all good and perfectly sound things to say, if a little obvious. But could we focus on a couple of other things that the declaration says – and a few things it doesn’t? Because they are much more revealing, and a little bit disturbing.

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Take the opening gambit, for example: “it is the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs, now and in the future. In all political deliberations, decisions and actions, their interests should be paramount”. At first, that looks pretty benign doesn’t it, and to an extent it is because it’s simply restating the generally accepted idea of self-determination.

But look again at that second phrase - “in all political deliberations, decisions and actions, their interests should be paramount” – because those words go to the heart of why many people are turned off by nationalism. The creed of the nationalist is country first, but many Scots are repulsed by that, its reductionism and selfishness. Isn’t it better to make decisions based on what is right for human and animal kind, or our neighbours, or the weakest or the poorest, or the planet, rather than the interests of people who are Scottish? And perhaps the authors of the declaration could answer this: what, exactly, is the difference between the SNP saying “Scotland first” and Donald Trump saying “America first”?

In another area, too, the declaration is sure to be a turn-off for unionists and undecideds. As I’ve already said, the economy was the central battleground last time round and yet the declaration barely mentions economic matters. There is some talk about the ownership of property being subject to democratic scrutiny, but there’s nothing about ownership itself being something that needs to be protected and encouraged in its own right.

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The declaration also says “economic growth should not be pursued at the expense of the wellbeing of the people” but shouldn’t the mission statement of a new state also tell us how economic growth is to be managed and encouraged? The economy will, after all, be the most important factor in whether the state succeeds or fails. But no: nothing.

And so, as an alternative, I’d like to promote a counter-declaration that hopefully points out the recurring flaws of nationalism, and suggests some guiding ideas that can help transcend it. Maybe these could be its principles:

• In all political deliberations, decisions and actions, the interests of Scots should be balanced against the interests of friends and neighbours in other countries, particularly the weakest or poorest.

• Scotland should be an open and democratic society in which we are defined not by our nationality but by common interests and values that transcend nationality.

• It is better for nations to share their burdens, responsibilities and costs, especially small nations and close neighbours.

• Scotland should seek to reduce any barriers to, or extra costs on, international trade and economic prosperity, including barriers at borders or different currencies. It should avoid introducing new barriers.

• All nations should commit to cede sovereignty and independence where it is in the interests of promoting economic efficiency, fairness, or international stability. Scotland should also seek to minimise government debt and keep spending as low as possible while protecting the weakest and most vulnerable in society.

• Nations should accept that they do not have a unique set of values and should work towards international ideals of equality and fairness. Political leaders should avoid populism based on national identity.

• Scots should avoid thinking that “Scotland’s fate is in the hands of others” or that “Scots have relinquished their right to decide their own destiny” and instead accept that all of us, whatever our nationality, have a duty to work together on a shared destiny.

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Now, I know what you’re going to say: how can you talk about economic and national stability and shared destinies when the UK Government is yanking Scotland out of the EU? But what I’d say to that is: Brexit is a disaster precisely because it flouts the principles I’ve outlined above. It also demonstrates that prioritising economic and international stability over national identity will always make for a fairer set of ideals.

I would also draw your attention to this week’s SNP conference, where you can clearly see the principles at work, albeit in the breach rather than the observance. Nicola Sturgeon refused to rule out a hard border with England if Scotland was ever independent despite the obviously disastrous economic consequences. The SNP conference is also likely to support un-costed economic promises, including more generous pensions than the rest of the UK. And, to top it all, we have the spectacle of SNP politicians continuing to promise that there will be a referendum next year even though everyone knows it’s not going to happen. None of this obeys the principles of co-operation. But more importantly, none of it is going to convince no voters that the SNP have learned the lessons of 2014.