LAST week, I launched the second paper in the Building a New Scotland series, making afresh the case for Scotland becoming an independent country.

It exposes the significant and increasing democratic deficit that Scotland suffers as part of the Union.

It shows that, far from being abstract, this inbuilt deficit has real life consequences for individuals, families and businesses across Scotland – from the impact of austerity to the implications of a Brexit we did not vote for. It argues that only independence can both strengthen and embed democracy in Scotland – and provide a secure foundation from which to overcome challenges and fulfil our potential.

This discussion could not be more timely.

The democratic deficit Scotland faces is not a recent phenomenon, but the evidence of it now is stark.

READ MORE: UK heatwave: Boris Johnson 'hosts farewell party instead of working'

A Prime Minister with no democratic endorsement from Scotland will be replaced by another Prime Minister that Scotland hasn’t voted for.

Added to that, the principle long-accepted – that the UK is a voluntary union of nations and that within it, Scotland has the right to self-determination – is being torn to shreds.

As this paper sets out, the democratic deficit has existed for decades.

Devolution has helped mitigate it – but not removed it – and the consequences of that link back to the key theme of the first paper in this series.

In that, we presented the extent to which, on a range of economic and social measures, neighbouring independent countries – similar in many ways to Scotland – are outperforming the UK, and highlighted the fact that Scotland as part of the UK is locked into that under-performance despite all the advantages we enjoy in human and natural resources.

I firmly believe that it is only with the democratic powers to take the key decisions affecting our lives that we can close this gap and reach our potential.

Independence is not separate from bread and butter issues – it is about them.

The National: National Extra Scottish politics newsletter banner

It is about building a stronger economy, protecting the NHS and public services.

It is about tackling the cost of living; and ensuring that in our energy-rich country, the costs of heating our homes do not plunge people into poverty.

It is about action on the climate, safeguarding human rights and our place in the world.

This latest paper sets out where Scotland stands democratically, and how that impacts our economy and society. Austerity, Brexit, anti-immigration measures – these are all policies we didn’t vote for but which are damaging lives and living standards across our country.

It outlines that Scotland’s democratic deficit is not one that can be fixed within a system founded on the principle of Westminster sovereignty. No UK government has ever shown the appetite for the fundamental UK-wide reform required to guarantee self-government for Scotland within the UK – because it would require Westminster to accept that it is not sovereign on all issues, at all times.

Independence is not just the best route to renewing and securing democracy in Scotland – ensuring that we get governments we vote for, that our elected Parliament can’t be over-ridden and undermined, and that we have a secure foundation on which to build the economic and social future we want – it is the only credible route.

That is why offering Scotland the choice of independence is essential.