I HOPE you managed to have a good break over the festive period. As we begin this new year, the truth is that, for many of us, we are facing exactly the same problems as last year.

The harsh reality for too many people this winter has been destitution, hopelessness and having to choose between eating their dinner or putting the heating on. The cost of living crisis has been at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts this winter and for many, under the control of Westminster, it is going to continue with no vision or plan for the future of the UK from either the Conservative or Labour Party.

Earlier this week, we were subject to a New Year address by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He set out five pledges to fix the problems impacting good old Great Britain, these included such promises as fixing the cost of living crisis, improving NHS waiting times and better-paid jobs. As if all these issues have nothing to do with 13 years of Tory governments.

If we look to Labour, there is no good news to be found either. Gordon Brown’s Constitutional Review has rightly been described as a “damp squib”, but I would, however, urge every Scot with a vote to read it. Especially those swayed by the idea that the UK is a big, powerful and strong economic brolly under which Scotland can seek shelter.

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If you read pages 18-36, you will find Brown’s bleak, accurate, devastating statistical analysis, and you will see that he demolishes the case for continuing to believe that Scotland’s future lies with a fatally weakened, failing, decaying, bankrupt UK now in deep hock to external financial forces.

Read those pages and you will see why it is imperative for Scotland to escape this Union. If we are to have any chance of a prosperous future, Gordon Brown’s analysis shows exactly why we must have the full financial powers of a normal independent country.

I have no doubt Gordon Brown would retort that his analysis shows why we need a Labour government, however, that fails to address the root of Scotland’s problems just now. Scotland voted for Labour governments for decades and still got Conservative governments.

Those with a memory of 2014 will remember Gordon Brown’s intervention promising a different UK if Scotland voted no. The UK is certainly different, but few would argue it is better. What is inarguable is that Gordon Brown and Labour cannot think outside the Unionist box they have put themselves in.

After the underwhelming maths-based address from our billionaire Prime Minister, the equally out-of-touch millionaire Sir Keir Starmer gave us his rendition of Labour’s latest Tory-lite plans. Labour are a pro-Brexit party that continue to deny Scottish democracy, and play trickle-down economics – sounds familiar, doesn’t it? – Labour and the Tories are two sides of the same coin.

Brexit is harming our economy and is predicted to continue to do so. Both the major parties in the UK are in complete denial of the damage that leaving the European Union has caused to us economically, politically and culturally. That “little Britain” mentality is not going away regardless of who wins the next election.

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The SNP will never prop up a Tory UK Government, particularly one wanting to take away people’s rights, but we have said we would work constructively with a Labour UK Government. However, the rhetoric flung back at us is always a case of rejection. One of the very few differences between Labour and the Tories is that the Tories actually tell you they are Tories.

Overall, it looks like the next General Election will be a battle of Tory vs Tory for control of the UK. Here in Scotland, we need to send a message that we reject it all, we want independence, we do not want to be part of this disarray and disorder coupled with corruption and sleaze that pours out of the UK political system anymore.

We need to look to our own future free of Westminster rule, building towards a fairer, greener and more prosperous Scotland. Whether it’s Keir or Rishi doesn’t matter anymore, they can give as many New Year speeches, vows and promises as they want but what we want in Scotland is to choose our own future. Anything less than that simply will not wash.