Scotland must, and will, have the right to choose its own future

Independence is the normal form of governance for most nations in the world.  Most of them take it, and the ability it affords them to take decisions in their own national interest, for granted.

Being independent does not magically solve every problem a country faces, but it does allow the opportunity to deal with those problems in a way best suited to your needs.  That is the essence of self-government – but Scotland does not yet have the ability to exercise those independent choices.

However, it would seem that independence is now becoming the settled will of a majority of people across Scotland. And the reasons for that are not hard to discern.

We have a Westminster government which pays constant lip service to the notion of equal partnership – but which in almost every action it takes completely demolishes that concept.

A true union of equals would not have imposed Brexit upon Scotland against the overwhelming majority of Scottish voters.

A genuine partnership would not then have then ignored the efforts of the Scottish Government to effect compromise to soften the blow of leaving the world’s biggest single market.

The result of that is that we now face the hardest of Brexits, exiting the transition period at the end of this year with either no trade deal at all, or instead what is likely to be a very bad deal – either of which threaten to be disastrous for Scotland.

And a Westminster government which cared in any meaningful way about the union it professes to cherish would not engage, as it currently is, in a blatant power grab which threatens to ride roughshod over devolved powers – something that has been attacked by interest groups across Scotland, including leading voices from our business and farming sectors.

None of this would be happening were we independent.

To compound things, the Tories are committed to scrapping furlough next month instead of following the lead of other European countries which have announced lengthy extensions to their job retention schemes in the face of the pandemic.

Again, if Scotland were already independent, with the full economic powers independent countries take for granted, we wouldn’t have to ask the UK Government to extend furlough to protect thousands of Scottish jobs – we could just do it ourselves.

Far from making the case for the union, the issue of furlough strengthens the case for Scotland acquiring the full borrowing and other financial tools of an independent country.

And it seems that people increasingly agree that Scotland needs those powers. Opinion polls show that, not only do a majority now believe Scotland should be independent, but that Scotland needs independence for our economic prospects to improve.

The Scottish Government will publish a draft referendum bill, setting out the proposed terms of an independence referendum, including the question, subject to testing by the Electoral Commission, and the proposed timescale for the vote.

And if a majority of MSPs elected to Holyrood next year back a referendum, no UK Government has the right to block the will of the people.

For the Tories, simply saying “no” in a bid to stick roadblocks in the way of democracy isn’t even the semblance of a long-term strategy – and increasingly it seems that is being acknowledged within Westminster and Whitehall.

Trying to hold back the tide of popular opinion in Scotland didn’t work for the Tories when they argued against devolution in the 1990s – and it won’t work now.

Scotland must, and will, have the right to determine its own future, and when that happens I firmly believe the people will choose independence.