United Kingdoms for a 21st Century Partnership

Extracts from the First Minister's opinion piece are as follows:

Independence will bring many opportunities for our nation, and with those opportunities also greater success and prosperity. And with independence I look forward to a new partnership with our neighbours in England - one where we will be equal partners, not surly lodgers.

In that new relationship the Queen would remain the Head of State in Scotland. The current parliamentary and political Union would become a monarchical and social union - United Kingdoms rather than a United Kingdom - maintaining a relationship first forged in 1603 by the Union of the Crowns.

Independence for Scotland in the 21st century would reflect the reality of existing interdependence: partnership in these Islands and more widely across Europe.

Back in the 1930s, the Express newspapers under Lord Beaverbrook were supportive of the early SNP, advocating a constitutional model then not unlike the modern Scotland that we aspire to now.

A great deal has changed since then - not least the constitutional structures all around us. Back then, the British Empire covered a vast expanse of the globe. Now, we have a free association of independent nations, the Commonwealth, of which the Queen is head.

Scotland already plays an independent role in many aspects of the Commonwealth - not least the Games, which we have secured for Glasgow in 2014 - and also other institutions such as the Commonwealth parliamentary association.

It is time for Scotland to celebrate our Commonwealth associations, and the 2014 Games gives us the perfect platform to do so.

The current Queen has personally witnessed an astonishing process of change over the past half century. Globally, the Empire evolved into the Commonwealth. Domestically, Britain has developed self-government for Scotland and Wales, and once again Northern Ireland. I believe that the process of change and progress in Scotland will continue, for the benefit of all.

We will become United Kingdoms rather than a United Kingdom, with shared history and close ties, but as an equal partner - not held back by the limitations of our parliament's current responsibilities. That is our positive vision of independence and equality for Scotland.

ENDS

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