‘NO man has a right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation; no man has a right to say to his country – thus far shalt thou go and no further.”

Charles Stewart Parnell spoke these words in 1885 and they are as true today as they were then. The UK Supreme Court may have ruled that the Scottish Parliament has no legal right to call a referendum on independence – but they can only judge things as they are, not as they should be.

The people of Scotland elected a majority of parliamentarians to Holyrood with a mandate to hold a referendum, and to suppress that is to suppress democracy. It comes as no surprise to me that British nationalist parties of all colours would seek to deny the expressed will of the people of Scotland.

They know the tide has well and truly turned and that the negativity and fear they poured into their campaign last time will not have the same effect, not on a country that has suffered the multitude of horrors doled out by Westminster Tories. Why risk losing when you can just deny democracy altogether seems to be the plan for both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer.

The Supreme Court also stated that Scotland could not be considered a colony and I do not think that any serious person would claim it to be so. However, when one partner in a union can deny the right of another to leave based only on the size of its population, then a union of equals it is not.

The ruling makes clear that the route to an independence referendum is a political one rather than legal, based on the laws written by Unionist politicians.

A question I put to the Prime Minister last week which remains unanswered is, by what democratic means can Scotland leave the United Kingdom?

It used to be by electing a majority of SNP MPs according to Margaret Thatcher. Well if that was the case, we would have been independent in 2015. Then in 2011, securing a majority in the Scottish Parliament on a mandate to hold a referendum was justification enough, but only when they seemed sure the result would be a No.

Now that we have a majority of MPs, and a majority of MSPs in favour of a referendum, these are no longer sufficient. And to add insult to injury, we have random no-mark Scottish Tories talking about super majorities and different sustained polling on a weekly basis.

Now that the most recent polling shows that the majority of people are in favour of holding a referendum (and Yes is in the lead), I can only imagine what other anti-democratic nonsense we will have to endure in the months to come.

There’s something about the psyche of those of us who have spent our adult lives fighting for Scotland’s independence. There’s nothing they can throw at us that makes us think it won’t happen.

When I sat in the Supreme Court last week, a tiny part of me hoped that the seemingly impossible would happen, the biggest part of me knew they would say no but maybe it’s because we’ve been through so much over the decades that my mind immediately just turned to “what next?”.

And in a focused, “there is a solution to this” way. Clarity is good, I thought as I stood to leave the court, let’s get on with the other options.

No part of me thought that decision made it less likely we would get our independence. And upon reflection, I recognised that it would very likely be the decision that opened the eyes of many in Scotland who had hoped that the voluntary union really was voluntary. So, in no time it’s become an advantage in my mind.

THE next steps we take need to be careful and considered and must re-engage the civic independence movement along with the political one.

That’s why I’m in two minds about Ian Blackford standing down as the Westminster group leader. A big part of me is really sorry he’s stepped down because I know how popular he is, how respected he is and how important he has been to the detail of our journey to independence.

I’ve known Ian most of my adult life and apart from having been a fantastic group leader and MP, he’s a great guy, has loads of integrity and is just fundamentally decent.

On the other hand, to know he’s going to be leading on business engagement for the independence campaign is just fantastic. I worked many years ago for Business for Scotland and I can’t think of anyone better to lead the engagement with the business community for us.

It’s not just his business background, it’s the gravitas and integrity he will bring to the role. He is someone they will listen to, and I know he will do an incredible job.