WELL, where do we go from here? Having once again achieved another remarkable success in the recent local council election, the SNP as a party is at the zenith of its political aspirations. It presently holds the largest democratically elected number of MPs, MSPs and local councillors in Scotland. This success has occurred both in a proportional representation and first-past-the-post systems of voting in elections.

The party enters its 15th year of government in Scotland. You would think that by anyone’s definition this is a country which has democratically voted and put into power an independence-seeking party so often that our independence should be a “no brainer”. Yet it is not enough for our country simply to declare its independence.

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Scotland suffers the biggest democratic deficit that you can imagine. Its elected MPs at Westminster are completely powerless to safeguard and pursue Scottish interests. Achieving all 59 Scottish seats changes nothing. The devolved parliament at Holyrood suggests a degree of controlling our own destiny but in reality it’s a sham. Devolution is a hollow word in the world of Tory-run England. The crystal-clear reality is that Westminster will always “run the show”.

How is it possible that a rump Tory party or Labour party of MSPs, sitting in Holyrood, beaten in elections for 15 years by the SNP, can still dictate to the Scots when they clearly have no democratic mandate to do so? Put simply, Scotland is seen as a region within the UK. It has only 59 Westminster seats within a total of 650 seats. With this set-up Scotland can never “be heard” and will always get a government it never votes for. Over the last 15 years this has been a stark reality.

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With devolution it was hoped that Scotland’s demands for independence would be silenced, but it has only vividly highlighted the “straitjacket” in which Scotland’s aspirations are firmly gripped. The Brexit debacle of 2016 showed clearly where we stand in the pecking order of the nations of the UK. A country voting 62% to stay in the EU met by the complete indifference of the Tories. So much for the precious Union and “Scotland matters” of the 2014 Vow.

How long do Scots have to put up with existing in a UK which simply ignores and remains indifferent to – no, vehemently opposes – our democratic demands for a different future? What was once a desire to grasp a different future is now an imperative. Since 2019 it has been abundantly clear that the most right-wing Tory government ever seen in these islands is hell-bent on destroying what is left of our devolution, determined to “bring Scotland to heel” and with Brexit and their economic and social policies impoverish our citizens.

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Already the UK economy is 5% smaller, with a loss of £35 billion. Led by Johnson, the Tories have reverted to the “nasty party” and are contaminated with sleaze and prevarication. Arrogance and a lack of empathy can be seen at every level of these British/English nationalists hankering for a long-gone Empire. Amid the escalating use of food banks, fuel poverty, people’s inability to feed their families, we are told “learn to cook”, “get a better job”, “work more hours”, “eat less” and “buy cheaper brands” as the answers!

Can it be right that our Scottish government continues to spend £700 million to mitigate the disastrous effects of the Tories’ social policies in England? Continues to sit on the sidelines and watches a broken right-wing Britain festering with its English nationalism continue to impoverish our Scottish citizens and become the pariah of Europe and the laughing stock of the world? There is no Union dividend, no case for the Union. The only solution now is Scottish independence.

We have achieved political power at every level. The focus MUST change to independence. It must be voiced by every politician wishing independence all the time, at every opportunity from now on. Ian Black ford at PMQs stated: ”I want my country to be independent”. Johnson answered: “My country is independent!”

This is what we are up against. Independence now!

Dan Wood