THE Scottish Government has published the second paper in its detailed prospectus for independence.

Entitled "Renewing Democracy Through Independence", the document was launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a media event at Bute House in Edinburgh.

The first in the series of independence papers, described as a “scene setter”, was revealed last month. The paper highlighted economic areas where the UK is outperformed by a group of other independent European nations.

This second argues that Scotland's political institutions should be "respected, protected and strengthened", highlighting that at present the Westminster parliament could vote to "change the powers of the Scottish Parliament, or even abolish it, at any time".

It says that the "democratic deficit" has "real-life consequences", and highlights how the Conservatives wield power over Scotland despite not having won an election north of the Border "for almost 70 years".

In a foreword, the First Minister said: "In an independent Scotland we can forge a better relationship – an equal partnership – with the rest of the UK, instead of the UK Government being able to assert 'Westminster sovereignty' regardless of the views of the Scottish Parliament or the people of Scotland."

The 58-page document spells out the UK's current political system before dealing with "why it matters who makes the decisions" and "the consequences of UK decisions for Scotland".

The National:

It argues that there is "no realistic possibility" of a federal UK which allows Scotland to exercise self-government due to parliamentary sovereignty, a constitutional cornerstone asserting the absolute power of Westminster.

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The paper states: "Under the UK’s constitution there is no way to entrench or protect devolution. It will always be vulnerable to being overridden by the exercise of UK Parliamentary sovereignty and decisions of the UK Government."

Outlining the consequences of Westminster control over Scotland, the paper focuses on the UK Government's failure to properly invest hundreds of billions in oil revenue, its decision to introduce austerity in 2010, and the UK's exit from the European Union.

It also focuses on migration, which it calls "critically important to Scotland’s demographic, economic and social prosperity", in the context of the demographic challenges facing the country. The paper says Scotland's population is expected to decline over the next 25 years, the only country in the UK facing this issue.

The document also looks at people's trust in the UK and Scottish governments since devolution, and highlights how faith in the Edinburgh government has been consistently higher.

The National:

The paper further argues that in order for the Union to remain an arrangement of consent it must be "for the people of Scotland to decide whether and when they will exercise their right to choose".

Responding to claims that the first referendum settled the issue of independence, the paper states: "The people of Scotland’s decision in 2014 did not cancel our democratic rights."

Sturgeon has confirmed that she wants a second independence referendum to take place on October 19, 2023.

The Supreme Court has been asked to rule on whether Holyrood has the legal power to legislate for the vote without Westminster's consent. If it rules against the Scottish Government, Sturgeon plans to use the next General Election as a de-facto referendum.

Raising questions about the Scottish Government's new paper, former Green MSP Andy Wightman wrote on Twitter: "Reading the foreword to ScotGov’s new 'democracy' paper and struck by how these arguments should also apply to local government in Scotland. ScotGov is actively 'clawing back powers' (eg National Care Service) from local government right now.

"If people in Scotland should have the right to choose how they are governed, should people in Paisley, Stranraer and Portree not have the same right? Should not local decisions and powers also be protected from being overridden by Edinburgh? 

"And if Brexit removed Scotland from the EU despite 'people living here voting to remain', should not folk in e.g. Shetland who might vote no to independence have the right to remain in the UK rather than being dragged out against their will?"