IT is the SNP's big pitch to the rest of the world.

An independent Scotland, the party tells anyone who'll listen, would be a Nordic social democracy, a "progressive beacon" of the EU, UN and - yes - Nato.

Unionists, of course, mock this vision of a future Scotland as kind of Denmark in a kilt. Think Rab C Nesbitt wearing a Viking helmet.

But overseas - slowly, very slowly - there are those starting to see our big vote as a battle between Scandinavian egalitarianism and raw Anglo-Saxon capitalism.

So is that SNP "progressive" pitch working? Well, maybe.

Take Quebec. This French-speaking outpost of North America has, of course, gone through two of its own indyrefs in the last 30 odd years.

So its political class is keeping a keen, if partisan, eye on our process.

This month one of its think-tanks, Institut de Recherche Sur Le Quebec, produced a paper on how this country's cultural nationalism became political.

Called Scotland's Referendum: The Point of No Return, its core thesis chimed firmly with that SNP "progressive beacon" line.

Its conclusion: "Alex Salmond is distinguishing himself from the Coalition's American-style neoliberal project with his own social democratic programme à la scandinave.

"Salmond, citing oil revenues, argues not only that there is no doubt about Scotland's economic viability, but that the country has the means to create a more generous welfare state."

The paper's author is Montreal-based Stéphane Paquin of L'ENAP, Quebec's University of Public Administration.

"The Scots are more social-democratic than the English," he declared, citing the long decline in the Tory vote north of the border.

Why did Scots not follow what Paquin calls the "naturally conservative English"? Two reasons:

"First, protestant working-class Scots stopped basing their votes on religion," he said.

"Second, middle class Scots kept faith in preserving and even improving the Welfare State something along the lines of the Scandinavian countries."

Sound familiar? It should.

This is an academic in Quebec reflecting back stories many Scots tell about themselves.

"Scotland left, England right" is almost one of the foundation myths of modern civic Scottish nationalism.

Of course, pollsters, such as John Curtice of Strathclyde University, quibble with the accuracy of the assertion.

But Paquin has embraced the story. And that in itself is interesting. A sign an SNP message is getting across?

The academic accepts another now increasingly widely reported assertion about Scotland: that we are far more Europhile than the rest of the UK.

Paquin cites David Cameron's proposed vote on EU membership.

"Not without irony the nationalist SNP has accused the British PM of separatism," he said. "The joke goes like this: if Scots want to stay in Europe, they'll have to vote Yes to independence."

The pro-EU credentials of Scots in general and the SNP in particular are now getting relatively regular outings in foreign press.

"Euroscepticism is not part of the Scottish political identity," declared Stuttgarter Zeitung earlier this month in a story on how Scots prefer the EU to London.

Again, pollsters here aren't entirely convinced that the German paper is right.

But that big SNP pitch as Scotland as a pro-EU Nordic social democracy - even if far from all Scots agree with it - is now being aired abroad.

I shouldn't get carried away: much international analysis of Scottish independence is still seen very much through the lens of London correspondents - and a certain 1990s blockbuster.

Paquin's paper was sponsored by Le Journal de Montreal, Canada's biggest tabloid and a bulwark of Quebec nationalism. Its introduction to his research: "Who could forget Braveheart?"