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An independent Scotland could turn to Denmark for inspiration | Ian Jack

Instead of looking south, campaigners are looking north, to the egalitarian models of small Nordic nations

What kind of country should Scotland be and how can it prosper? Surprisingly, given the swell of Scottish opinion in favour of independence, these questions aren’t much discussed. A swirling mist obscures the road beyond the referendum, occasionally lit up by neon signs reading “green” and “fair” and “free”. Independence, like Brexit, is predicted by its supporters to have a galvanising effect. Few are as gung-ho as Alex Salmond, who estimates that Scotland is one of the world’s richest countries, the “Saudi Arabia of renewables”. Nonetheless, despite the contrary evidence of a recent economic forecast by the London School of Economics, a view prevails that any damage will be easily overcome. In the words of the scientist and engineer Hillary Sillitto, there has always been “lots of talk about a better, fairer society [and] none about where the wealth was going to come from to pay for it”.

Last month Sillitto and two other Edinburgh-based writers – another reputable scientist, Ian Godden, and a nurse-turned-entrepreneur, Dorothy Godden – published an online edition of their book, Scotland 2070, which aims to rectify what the writers identify as “the poor quality and short-term perspective of Scotland’s political debate”. Avowedly detached from political parties, they warn against conventional solutions such as inward investment and low corporate taxes: the first is a poor substitute for the development of local industry, and the second is already well-catered for by Ireland.

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