THIS has been a year of change for Scotland. Perhaps not in all the ways we’d have liked, but change nonetheless.

Scotland began the year with Boris Johnson in Number 10, a Tory prime minster we didn’t vote for. By autumn, the party’s psychodrama of a leadership election saw Liz Truss the new resident.

She was perhaps the worst prime minister the UK has ever had – her botched “mini-Budget” is estimated to have cost the United Kingdom economy £30 billion (without any of it having been implemented).

Again, a Tory prime minister Scots didn’t elect.

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Meanwhile, throughout the draughty corridors of the Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House, Tory MPs were conspiring to install our third prime minister of the year, again without the general public being consulted once on their choice of leader.

Rishi Sunak has inherited a mess, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s a mess created by his own party, following 12 years of complete mismanagement of almost every area of government.

When he walked through the doors of Number 10, as much as I fundamentally oppose him on many areas of policy, and as much as I consider it an affront that he takes on executive power without putting his proposals to voters at a General Election, I joined the First Minister and others in opposition in wishing him well.

This was not out of any support for Sunak or the Tories, both of whom deserve to be removed from office at the next election, but because the UK – all four nations of it – needs a period of calm.

Christmas Day marked two full months since Sunak took office, and nobody could argue that the situation across the UK is calm and stable.

While the Scottish Government has been getting stuck in, negotiating with unions and workers over pay and conditions, in many cases the UK Government has been posted missing. It’s worth pointing out also that the SNP-led government in Edinburgh has acted with one hand tied behind its back, due to the unique and bizarre funding formula for the UK’s devolved institutions.

UK ministers’ disinterest in reaching a workable resolution to these disputes has plunged the entire UK into chaos and standstill in equal measure. Many people over the course of the festive period were unable to send or receive parcels on time, or had their travel plans severely disrupted.

The Tories need to take this seriously. Demonising trade unions for standing up for their workers simply wastes time – they need to get round the table and talk like adults.

Some people may look to Labour as the alternative to the Tory chaos gripping the nation. As tempting as though that may be, I argue that Labour simply represents more of the same.

Part of the reason the UK is struggling to recover from the economic turmoil brought on by a Covid pandemic is Brexit. We’re no longer trading freely with our closest international neighbours, and that has consequences. More and more, people are beginning to realise this, as UK-wide opinion polling tells us the majority of the population supports EU membership.

Keir Starmer’s proposal is to “make Brexit work”, an oxymoron if ever we’ve heard one. I’d politely suggest Mr Starmer look around him – Brexit isn’t working. The UK was sold a pup in 2016 and now we’re seeing the widespread effect it’s having on our economy and living costs.

Labour in Scotland is too preoccupied with anti-SNP sentiment at any costs to be able to spend any time opposing the mess the Tories are making of the country.

This was also a local government election year and despite the SNP winning the highest number of seats in my constituency, Labour (the third-largest party on the local authority) sought the support of the Tories to form a minority administration on Stirling Council.

Across the country, Labour councillors entered into faustian deals with Conservatives as playing politics appears to be more important than delivering what’s right for the people they’re elected to serve.

Scotland’s lifeboat from all of this, of course, is independence. I’m not going to pretend the Supreme Court ruling on Holyrood’s ability to unilaterally legislate for an independence referendum was disappointing. Unsurprising, but disappointing nevertheless.

READ MORE: Would collapsing Holyrood actually get us any closer to independence?

What it has confirmed to us, though, is the state of play – those who have for so long demanded that the Scottish Government just “get on with it” and deliver an independence referendum now know for certain it cannot.

This isn’t through any fault of the Scottish Government, MSPs at Holyrood, or the people of Scotland, but is a symptom of a Union that isn’t entirely voluntary. Scots in 2014 voted to remain in the UK – marginally so at 55%. That No vote should never be taken as final by those who seek to govern us from 500 miles away. The people of Scotland are sovereign and should have their say.

And what message does it give us that the only way for Scotland to get what it voted for in the form of an independence referendum is for a Prime Minister we didn’t elect (the third one this year) to say he’s OK with it? It’s an affront – an attack, even – on what it is to be a fundamentally democratic country, where our shared destiny is decided by us, not them.

So, 2022 was a year of great change for Scotland, and not all of it the change we wanted. But now we know how the board is set and early in the new year we’ll discuss our next move.