"POWER devolved is power retained.” That phrase was never far from my lips during the 2014 referendum because it summarised so well, to me, the relationship between Scotland and Westminster; not a promise that the House of Commons WOULD overstep the spirit and boundaries of devolution, but a reminder that it so easily could.

Yes, we have a mix of powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Yes, there is the promise of more to come if we back the Union over self-determination. But at its core, at the beating centre of our family of nations, was the conceit that Britain’s constitutional covenant would always be at the mercy of the whims of Westminster regardless of how much power slipped from the gilded streets of Whitehall to the chambers of Holyrood.

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Our Parliament’s identity as a coherent and complete administration has butted against a hard reality ever since; that while Scotland is free to elect its representatives to a chamber of its choosing, there exists always a single loose thread that weaves from the oak and granite of Holyrood through the hills and estates of Scotland, down between England’s dales and districts, and into the eager hands of a parliament that has been tugging gently, so gently, on it ever since.

For the UK’s Internal Market Act, and to snatch powers formerly held by the EU, Westminster’s politicians came with grease to slip through the cracks of devolution and into communities that had rejected them at the ballot box. But to deal with Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, the Conservatives come not with grease, but a hammer.

The Tories didn’t waste a moment from the passing of the bill to suggest they were considering a veto. In fact, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (below) has been poised and positioned to act on the bill long enough now as to suggest that a call to his chiropractor may be necessary to safely untangle him from it – just not a chiropractor on the NHS.

The National: Rishi Sunak

It would also suggest he, like everyone advising him, can likely see the consequences the nuclear option would have on Westminster’s relationship with Scotland.

There are only a few days left for Sunak to make a decision on whether or not he will use a Section 35 order to effectively overwrite the will of Scotland’s democratically elected Parliament and undo the progress made on gender self-declaration.

Trans rights, after all, have been made a contentious issue by culture war advocates in government, who see in Britain’s transgender populace not a people deserving of rights and respect but a useful tool for rallying reactionaries and right-wingers behind a party that has nothing much else to offer – vis-a-vis Suella Braverman telling a Holocaust survivor she wouldn’t apologise for using the same rhetoric as the Nazis to describe asylum seekers.

With the Conservatives driven by the most emotive and inhumane aspects of their political ideology, and needing also to show Little England that it can keep a tight leash on the north, why have the Tories been so reticent to formally declare their intent to block the GRR Bill?

I suspect for two reasons. First, there is no return for Sunak should he choose this path – nor for the United Kingdom either. There be monsters in such undemocratic waters – and any part of the UK confronted by them, whether they support the purpose of this particular bill or not, would see clearly that their own legislatures can easily be overridden by those with a particular agenda.

And second, the Scottish Parliament went to great lengths to ensure the bill was within the competencies of our devolved powers, removing sections throughout during a lengthy debate before Christmas – made only lengthier by shameless Tory MSPs with a penchant for autocratic flirtations and filibusters.

One amendment on extending the provisions of the bill to asylum seekers was removed specifically because it would have fallen within the remit of Westminster, where immigration powers reside still – an explicit example of the ways in which the Scottish state’s ability to act with humanity is stifled as long as we remain a part of the United Kingdom and such powers remain outside of our influence.

For these reasons, I suspect Sunak’s alleged eagerness to step into this constitutional mire has been much exaggerated by Britain’s right-wing press – though that isn’t to say he won’t make the profoundly stupid decision to block it anyway.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer has waded into the discussion around Westminster’s threat to override Scottish democracy in his usual style – which is to say that he has no opinion on the course of action the Conservatives are taking, and no plan of action should they follow through.

Transgender lives are on the front line of the culture war, along with all minorities and trade unions in Scotland – but so, too, are we becoming a constitutional issue that will, I suspect, begin to break more and more evenly along the lines of which side of the constitutional divide you sit on.

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An anti-GRR rally outside of the Scottish Parliament, organised by the anti-abortion, anti-LGBT “feminists” of the Scottish Family Party, had more than a few Union Jacks flying betwixt the misappropriated colours of the Suffragettes.

I believe that divide will grow clearer as the GRR Bill becomes increasingly drawn into the topic of Westminster’s overreach and undemocratic intentions. After all, it has long been a position of the independence movement that we should be free to make our own decisions – even if those decisions are ones that we personally disagree with.

To call yourself an advocate for Scottish independence while cheering on an intervention from an abhorrent government the likes of which sits at Westminster now would not only be the height of hypocrisy – it would be anathema to the case for leaving such things behind.