Independence is on the agenda

As the first of three planned National Assemblies gets underway today in Ayr, independence is firmly on the agenda.

Members have come together to discuss how an independent Scotland can be a fairer, more prosperous country.

National Assembly is an event for members to discuss and develop policy before it is presented to National Council or National Conference for approval.

So when the Sustainable Growth Commission published its report on the economics of independence, it was clear that the next step was to hand the debate over to our members at National Assemblies.

As well as the event in Ayr today, I will be hosting one in Aviemore on the 1st of September and in Edinburgh on the 9th of September.

Each event will put the ‘why of independence’ front and centre as people in Scotland seek an alternative to the doom and despair of a no deal Brexit.

This week we’ve seen just how necessary this is.

On Thursday the UK government set out their plan for a ‘no deal’ Brexit – an outcome that their chaotic approach to Brexit negotiations is making ever-more likely.

It made depressing reading: medicines will be stockpiled; holidays will be more expensive; and people living elsewhere in the EU could lose access to bank accounts.

Yet as the UK hurtles towards a disastrous ‘no deal’ Brexit, there has been positive news for Scotland’s economy.

Scotland’s public finances are improving. Tax revenues are going up – both for our ‘onshore’ economy and our offshore oil and gas sector – and our ‘notional’ deficit is falling.

This follows news that growth in our economy has outstripped growth across the UK over the last year. Employment is going up, unemployment is at a near record low and exports are booming.

There can be no doubt that Scotland is a wealthy country.

We are a leader in the jobs of the future, we’re an energy powerhouse, our food and drink is amongst the best and our universities are world-class.

But despite those enormous strengths, similar sized nations have performed far better for decades – all of them independent and most of them with fewer resources than Scotland.

An independent Scotland would be well placed to join them.

The Sustainable Growth Commission report has opened up a new debate on how we achieve those high ambitions for an independent Scotland.  

With the National Assembly today in Ayr, that debate steps up a gear.

We’re using new, innovative and inclusive methods to engage our members at the event – ensuring they lead the debate.

As well as the National Assemblies, we will also be asking our 292 local organisations to host discussions around the Sustainable Growth Commission report.

And my campaign team and I have begun discussions with the wider Yes family and we are extending these meetings to trade unions, businesses and sectoral groups.

For me, delivering an independent Scotland is about putting our future in the hands of the people who matter most – everyone who lives here.

So it is fitting that we hand the debate over to you.

Let’s open a fresh conversation of hope and ambition on how an independent Scotland can be a fairer, more prosperous country.

Together we will build a winning case for independence – let’s get to it!

Keith Brown MSP is Depute Leader of the SNP.