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Since 2007, following the SNP success in the Scottish General Election and the establishment of a minority SNP government, Scotland has been the focus of a great deal of attention and interest among our fellow-Nationalists in the Independence parties of the European Free Alliance group.
In the few weeks since the momentous and historic outcome of the Scottish Election of 2011, the SNP success story is reverberating around Europe and the wider world, with many an envious eye being cast in our direction because we now have the mandate - and parliamentary majority - to give the people of Scotland the right to choose their future in an Independence referendum.
This second term of SNP government will be an opportunity to continue building the foundations of a better nation, making maximum use of the limited powers currently devolved, while using every available opportunity to win additional powers, especially financial responsibilities and greater influence in EU decision-making.
This 5-year term is an opportunity to nurture the growing feelings of hope and optimism which led so many voters to choose the SNP. On my own campaign travels around Scotland, it was clear that our positive campaign, with a vision for the future, was preferable to the negativity of our opponents.
Scots have faced decades of relentlessly negative campaigning and scare tactics by the Unionist Parties. Now that the voters across Scotland know that the SNP can make a difference, with an outstanding record of achievement as a government, negative campaigning has been firmly rejected.
We have a unique opportunity to make further progress towards Independence for Scotland. In the few weeks since the election it seems that every commentator, politician and media outlet wants to talk about Independence and what it would mean. The more discussion we have about what Independence means, the better to build the confidence of our people to choose Independence.
As a nation, we accept the Independence of other countries as normal. We do not think it strange that the people of Norway and Denmark run their own affairs. We would not expect the people of Ireland or Sweden to ask another nation to take decisions for them because they didnʼt feel up to the job. With Independence Scotlandʼs place in the world would change for the better because we would be able to play a full part in the world around us as a member of international bodies like the European Union and the United Nations.
If Scotland was responsible for its own income the economy would grow faster each year. Having full responsibility for Scotlandʼs finances, which automatically would be the case with Independence, would allow us to protect more of the vital public services we care about. The choice for people is to stick with things as they are, with our Westminster allocated budget reducing year on year, or we can take responsibility and use that responsibility to create a new, dynamic, Scottish economy.