OPINION: IT’S TIME TO DEFEND SCOTTISH DEMOCRACY

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Like many constituents, I was disappointed with the UK Supreme Court ruling that the power to legislate on holding a referendum on Scottish independence did not lie with the Scottish Parliament but instead with the UK Parliament.

This case has demonstrated the weakness of the UK’s constitution. No matter how the people of Scotland vote, or how often they elect parliaments that support a referendum and support independence, they can be told ‘no’ by the UK Prime Minister. This cannot be right, and there are few stronger or more powerful arguments for independence than that.

People in Scotland gave the Scottish Parliament a clear mandate to hold a referendum on independence. In repeated elections both to the Scottish Parliament and to Westminster – in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and most recently in May 2021 – people in Scotland have elected majorities of MSPs and MPs that support a referendum. In May last year, 72 of the 129 MSPs were elected on manifestos that commit them to a referendum on Scottish independence during this Parliament.

A law that doesn’t allow Scotland to choose our own future without Westminster consent exposes as myth any notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership. In a voluntary union, one part doesn’t have to rely on the agreement of another before it is allowed to think about leaving.

This judgment confirms that promises before the 2014 referendum that the United Kingdom would operate as a ‘partnership of equals’ haven’t been fulfilled. There can be no equal relationship where one part refuses to accept or even acknowledge the decisions made by other parts.

As Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has made clear her government stands ready to engage at any point with the UK Government to begin talks about the change to the Scottish Parliament’s powers to allow the Scottish people to choose their future.

Should the UK Government continue to deny the Scottish people their right to choose, people in Scotland will have their say on independence at the next UK general election.

This article was written for publication in the Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter.

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