One of the few strong attractions of independence for me is the chance to backpedal on our island’s collective delusions of grandeur and to better reflect Scottish thinking in our policies – that we don’t rule the world with either a carrot or a stick. I did a calculation in a recent blog post that if the UK reduced spending on defence to Scandinavian levels, putting confidence in the UN/Nato, then we would save £24.4bn a year. Scotland’s share of that saving would presumably be around £2.4bn each year.

So I was initially dismayed by the SNP’s reaction to the closure of Leuchars and Kinloss as air bases. We pay too much for Defence relative to other nations of our size and we can’t have it both ways, we can’t seek to save money from no longer being the world’s policeman while protesting about cuts in Defence. Maybe this ‘grudge and grievance’ charge against the SNP stacks up after all.

However, that dismay lifted when I read Jennifer Dempsie’s excellent piece in the Scotland on Sunday. Jennifer makes a compelling argument in favour of a Scottish Army in light of the disproportionate level of cuts and under-spend that Scotland has suffered via the Defence Budget in the past decade.

If people are blinkered to make comparisons between Scotland and England when there’s a whole wide world out there then I for one am equally guilty in regularly citing Scandinavian countries as the perfect place for Scotland to copy, though recent events alone show that they are not insulated from the most unimaginable of horrors. On defence spending however I do believe that they have the right balance in terms of GDP spend and how safe the citizens seem to feel, particularly given how likely (or not likely) an attack on the peaceful Scandinavians would be. Would Scotland be as at risk of a repeat of the Glasgow Airport attacks if it was visibly moving away from the imperialist Britannia of old? We can’t know for sure but there are further benefits that would accrue from such a move.

The UK spends 2.7% of GDP on defence while Sweden spends 1.2%, Norway 1.6% and Denmark 1.4%. Jennifer stated in her article that “the Royal Norwegian Air Force operates more than 117 aircraft from seven airbases, the Royal Danish Air Force, which operates more than 111 aircraft from three airbases, and the Royal Swedish Air Force, which operates more than 187 aircraft from seven airbases.”

Scotland paid too high a price for forays into Iraq and Afghanistan without a sizeable Allied force and Scotland still pays too high a price for holding nuclear weapons in our waters. The numbers above prove beyond reasonable doubt that we can operate more than one measly air base in an independent Scotland if we rearranged our priorities away from playing the world like a board game, away from army boys wanting ever shinier toys, to a more peaceable, Scandinavian model where we involve ourselves in foreign missions in lower numbers and with a broader European/global consensus as to when action is necessary, while still maintaining a strong proud record of air defence and knowledge.

Based on a Scandinavian model, a Scottish defence budget would be less than the Scottish share of a UK budget and consequently would provide hundreds of millions of change leftover after keeping Leuchars and Kinloss as the air bases that the local community wants them to be.

With the debate around independence bizarrely focussing on Britishness in recent weeks, leading to Pete Wishart’s welcome rebuttal on Better Nation the other day, I can only hope that the public doesn’t lose sight of the facts and figures that shows what the pros and cons of a separate Scotland actually are.