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The European Free Alliance, which draws together political parties from Europe's stateless nations, recently staged a conference in Edinburgh. The event brought together representatives of 5 parties currently in government in their home countries. Nationalists from Scotland, Wales, the Basque Country, Catalonia and Flanders met to discuss cultural co-operation, and share experiences of the range of constitutional changes which have taken place, and to look ahead at the road to Independence.
Angus based Ian Hudghton MEP, President of the SNP, took part in a round-table discussion, outlining the achievements to date and the challenges facing the SNP and Scotland, particularly in terms of the debate on our Constitutional status and options for further change. Mr Hudghton said;
"In August 2007 the government launched a 'national conversation', a broad-based consultation on options for further constitutional change, ranging from individual powers that could be transferred to the Scottish Parliament (such as taxation), to our ultimate goal of independence.
"By November 2007, the 3 Unionist parties in the Scottish Parliament united to propose a Constitutional Committee, to consider extra powers that could be transferred to the Scottish Parliament, although independence will not be on their list! We have heard little detail so far on how exactly the Unionists proposal will work, or if there will be public input, but it is significant that they had a private joint meeting last week in London, not in Scotland.
"It is testament to the success of the SNP Government, that in just a few months of proactively advancing constitutional change, that the issue is now at the centre of political debate. The status quo is no longer an option. The Scottish devolution package was described by Labour as "the settled will of the Scottish people". Contrasting 8 years of Labour led mediocrity with just over 8 months of SNP action, the people are not so settled. There is a growing realisation, and a confidence, that Scotland can do better.
"We have an opportunity to build upon that momentum, and see Scotland taking her rightful place as an independent nation again, with full participation rights at the top table in the European Union. We are leading Scotland forward towards Independence, and we are determined to succeed."