‘I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.’
Like a brown envelope from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) dropping through the letterbox, that was the predictable response from Boris Johnson to the Scottish Government’s democratic mandate to offer the people of Scotland a choice on our future, following the SNP’s successive election victories. In the hours that followed the publication of the Prime Minister’s response, social media was awash with justifiable demands for a ‘Mandatory Reconsideration’ accompanied by a general feeling of uncertainty as to the best way forward.
First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has already advised that the Scottish Government will set out their response and next steps before the end of this month – but where does that leave the rest of us? How can we, as campaigners and activists, contribute to building the Yes movement to a level that Johnson and his cabal are left with no other option than to cede to public pressure?
As a disabled rights activist, I tend to make my arguments in favour of Scotland becoming an independent country through the prism of the cruel Tory welfare system. Indeed, other communities and sectors have their own experts but, it is my view, that if we are persuading people in and around our own sphere of influence, Johnson’s anti-democratic position will crumble.
I regularly use these points:
- Under the Tories, 3.8 million disabled adults and 300,000 disabled children across the UK are trapped in poverty
- Survivors of rape were expected to endure further trauma by discussing their horrific experiences in order to receive child tax credits as part of the Tory two-child cap
- Over 100,000 disabled people across the UK lost access to Motability vehicles, which aids independent living, after dehumanising and extreme PIP assessments
- An estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the UK – due, in part, to wages not keeping up with costs of living and the abject failings surrounding Universal Credit, which is causing unnecessary hardship
- 1 million children are living in poverty – a disgraceful statistic for one of the world’s wealthiest countries
- The UN has strongly criticised the UK Government’s treatment of disabled people and those in poverty
These are just a few policies, like being dragged out the EU against its will, that Scotland did not vote for. In fact, nobody under the age of 85 has voted in an election that has returned a Tory majority in Scotland.
At every election, the people of Scotland have chosen a different path. The Scottish Parliament has chosen to fully mitigate the Tory Bedroom Tax, which disproportionately affects disabled people, and to ensure that dignity and respect is at the heart of Scotland’s new social security agency, which increased the Carer’s Allowance as its first action. To make sure that every single baby has an equal start in life, the people of Scotland supports the Baby Box and to tackle period poverty Scotland introduced a scheme to provide free sanitary products to all students – a world first.
By voting for the Conservatives, the rest of the UK continues to diverge from Scotland’s approach to a progressive welfare system. I believe this is just one of many areas which will contribute to an ever-increasing belief and confidence that Scotland’s future is best in Scotland’s hands. While politicians continue to debate the details of ‘how’ and ‘when’, it’s up to the rest of us to persuade our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. Our campaigning will leave the Westminster democracy deniers with no other option than to accept that the people of Scotland should have the opportunity to become a better, fairer, more equal country. An independent country.