Westminster is blocking Scottish democracy, so the next general election will be a referendum on independence
On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to hold a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future without Westminster’s approval. The ruling reflects where constitutional powers lie, but it does not answer the question of who is best placed to make decisions about what happens in Scotland.
With record inflation, soaring prices and sky high bills, it is clear that Westminster is not working. All of this chaos is being overseen by a Tory government that Scotland did not vote for and can’t remove.
But independence is about so much more than freeing ourselves from the brutal policies of the Tories. It is about realising the huge potential we have here in Scotland and using the powers it would give us to do things differently.
Independence would give us the best opportunity to deliver the transformative social, economic and environmental change that is so badly needed. It would allow us to stop talking about the things that Westminster needs to do differently, and to start doing them ourselves.
I am very proud of the things we have achieved from Holyrood, including record funding for wildlife, nature, recycling and infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling. We have introduced free bus travel for everyone under 22 and invested in active travel networks, as well as £5 billion for improving and decarbonising Scotland’s rail network.
These are all important changes that are having a positive impact here and now. They are core Green values that we have been able to turn from words into action.
An independent Scotland could redesign the energy market and our economy so that they work for people and planet rather than shareholders. The reality is that from raising wages to raising benefits, and from taxing the obscene wealth of the oil and gas companies to taking these companies into public ownership, these things can only be done from Westminster. Rather than calling for the UK government to cancel the destructive new oil exploration in the North Sea, an independent Scotland could halt it for good.
We don’t just want to remove power from Westminster and centralise it in Holyrood, we want to spread it out across our country and give local communities control over their own destinies.
As an MSP, I spend part of the week in my region, at my home in Moray or another part of the Highlands and Islands, and part of it in Edinburgh. I love these places dearly. They are uniquely different expressions of Scotland. They have all been shaped by their natural environments, history and time.
But the solutions for Edinburgh will rarely be the solutions for the Highlands and Islands, and vice versa. That is why, wherever possible, I want to see local people leading with support from local authorities and parliamentarians. Local people know their surroundings – the land, coasts and the seas and they must have agency to make decisions on the issues that impact them.
Independence is not just a means to an end, nor is it an end in itself. It is a springboard from which we can do things differently by transforming our country and adapting to ensure a better future for everyone.
If Westminster continues to block our democracy and our right to take our future into our own hands then we will have no option other than to use the next general election as a de facto referendum. This is not our first choice. It is nobody in the Yes movement’s first choice. But, if the UK government will not allow a democratic referendum then it is what we will have to do. Every vote for the Scottish Greens will be counted as a vote for our positive and progressive vision for independence.
The Supreme Court may have made its judgement. But it is time for the people of Scotland to have their say. The campaign for a fairer, greener and independent Scotland is only just getting started.
Ariane Burgess is a Scottish Green Party MSP for the Highlands and Islands
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Image credit: Ric Lander – Creative Commons