WE were meant to “take back control” – at least that is what we were told throughout the 2016 Brexit referendum.

What they didn’t tell us was that they meant taking it from our parliament.

It was in the aftermath of that disastrous vote that the Tories introduced the Internal Market Act in order to give themselves far-reaching veto powers over devolved governments.

The act itself was opposed by the Scottish Government and our parliament but, in a sign of things to come, our objections were ignored.

The dispute over the inclusion of glass in our Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is the latest attempt to block our work. It is a challenge that should stick in the craw of every environmentalist or democrat.

Deposit return schemes are perfectly normal. Lots of countries have them. Despite the Tory warnings of meltdown and disaster, they are really simple and effective.

In short, every time we buy a can or a bottle, we would pay a 20p deposit which will be included in the cost. Once we have finished with the container, we would take it back to one of thousands of collection points where we would get our 20p back.

It is very straightforward, and it could be transformative to our relationship with waste. Even in the Highlands & Islands communities that I represent, it feels like you are never far away from a discarded can or bottle.

I lived in New York City for a number of years. We had a very successful and long-established scheme that included glass.

It meant that despite all of the bustling and busy streets and the hectic and pacey lifestyle of the city, we had far greater recycling rates and far fewer discarded cans and bottles than we otherwise would have.

The New York scheme was initially approved in 1982 and has become a daily fact of life. It is second nature. Far from any regrets, recent polls show that New Yorkers want to see the scheme expanded even further.

And it’s not just New York.

From Sweden to Saskatchewan, there are already 51 deposit return schemes in operation all around the world – including 45 that include glass. If these countries can do it, then why can’t Scotland? How can it be that Scotland alone can be judged to be uniquely incapable of running a scheme?

Foremost it’s because, for the Tories, this isn’t really about glass or recycling at all. It’s about power and about sending a message. It’s straightforward sabotage.

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They know that there is no environmental case for blocking glass. We know that because they told us. A scheme with glass was in the 2019 manifesto that Alister Jack, Douglas Ross and Rishi Sunak were all elected on.

In a now infamous tweet from 2019, Tory MSP Maurice Golden went even further, saying that “If you are going to do something, do it properly – Scotland’s new deposit returns system should include glass.

It’s just common sense if we are serious about reducing litter and improving recycling.”

He was absolutely right. Glass is an eyesore, it is the scourge of every cat or dog owner and lots of parents. From our Highlands to our lowlands and everywhere in between, we go through 550 million glass bottles every year in Scotland; of course they should be part of our scheme.

Devolution can’t simply be about making laws that the UK Government approves of. That wouldn’t be devolution at all.

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Yet, between the Internal Market Act and the veto of Section 35, there is real doubt that we will be able to make any progress that the UK Government will not try to block.

If this latest move is successful, then where will it end?

Just this week, a UK Government source told the media – not the Scottish Government – that they may withhold permission for marine protection plans that we are developing.

The Scottish Parliament has a proud history of leading the way on progressive policies that have sparked debate and change across the UK.

That’s why we abolished tuition fees, introduced the first public smoking ban and delivered the Scottish Child Payment and free bus travel for everyone under 22. The Deposit Return Scheme is part of that same tradition.

There are lots of things that previous Scottish governments have done that I didn’t support and lots of areas where I don’t think they went far enough. But I would never have wanted to see those decisions outsourced to any government in Westminster in order to stop them.

It’s no longer even about the rights and wrongs of DRS, it’s about democracy. This may be a perfect advert for independence, but what we really need is for people who support independence and people who support devolution to stand together to defend our democracy and the rights of our parliament.

There are perfectly valid discussions and debates to be had about how policies are rolled out and implemented. But, as democrats, we should all start from the position that it is our parliament’s right to set policy the way that our MSPs vote to. Anything less than that would be to undermine the clearest and most fundamental principles of our democracy.