Tony Blair, in a flying visit to Scotland, has continued the Unionist tradition of scaremongering and talking Scotland down. He reportedly claims that the consequences of Independence would "disastrous and so negative", asserting that the Great British Union is a "partnership that works".

Strange, is it not, that so many small independent countries are prospering, and making much more of the opportunities afforded by EU membership than we in Scotland currently are. Actually there is nothing strange about it. Being independent is the norm in Europe, and an independent Scotland would find many allies among the present 27 independent member states.

The myth that Scotland is better represented in the EU, as part of the big and strong UK, has been well and truly exposed in a report drafted by the Scottish Executive's own top civil servant in Brussels, Michael Aron. The report, which was recently leaked to The Herald, is addressed to the First Minister, and is headed on each page "Restricted - Advice to Ministers".

In a series of candid comments, gleaned from Executive departments' experiences in dealing with Whitehall on EU issues, the report simply blows apart the "stronger together" claims made by the Unionist parties. Judge for yourselves, from the following selection of quotes from the civil servantʼs report.

"As EU matters are reserved to the UK Government, Executive contact with the 3 EU Institutions is limited and mainly conducted using UKRep or Whitehall departments as conduits."

"Whitehall departments can be reluctant to take on board many of the Executive's viewpoints especially if they relate solely to a Scottish problem. It has not been uncommon for Whitehall to dismiss views of the Executive when formulating the UK line..."

"Whitehall departments stilł appeared to be under the impression that their policy views and objectives were representative of the entire UK rather than simply of England."

" seemed to be especially frustrating when the Executive is kept out of the loop on an EU issue of importance to Scotland's interests."

"Fisheries policy is an ideal example of where the different priorities of Departments can lead to clashes over policy development."

This comprehensive analysis, by the Scottish Executive's own civił service, perfectly illustrates the need for Scotland to be a normal independent country. It is a disgrace that our vital interests are still being routinely ignored, and sometimes deliberately betrayed, by the UK Government. We have a tremendously important opportunity on May 3rd. A win for the SNP will begin the process of restoring real political power and influence to Scotlandʼs parliament. Let us make the most of that opportunity, and make sure that our positive campaign message is delivered to every household in Scotland.

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