Nationalists have modelled an independent Scotland on countries from every corner of the planet, often with little serious justification.
In less than a fortnight, Scotland will host the world in microcosm as Cop26 opens in Glasgow. It will do so under a Scottish government eager to portray the country as a responsible state-in-waiting, and Nicola Sturgeon has already begun to use the prospect as a chance to outline a distinctly Scottish vision of geopolitical agency. Last week, after a speech to the Ted Countdown Summit in Edinburgh on the role of smaller countries in tackling climate change, the First Minister travelled to Reykjavik to address the annual assembly of the Arctic Circle, a major international conference on Arctic geopolitics. While there, she did her best impression of a stateswoman, meeting with the Icelandic prime minister, the Danish foreign minister and the US senator for Alaska, Lisa Murkowski.
Scotland is not actually in the Arctic, of course, but Sturgeon eagerly reminded the delegates that these things are all relative: “The most northerly part of Scotland is closer to the Arctic Circle than to London,” she declared with a smirk, to the knowing chuckles of her audience. Those chuckles are themselves a victory of global branding: the idea of Scotland straining at the British leash, looking to take its business elsewhere, is becoming easily – and even fondly – recognised across the globe.