ACTUALLY, I believe Lorna Slater.

Having just watched her tell MSPs there is no choice but to delay Scotland’s deposit return scheme till October 2025, or whenever the UK Government finally lumbers into action, it’s pretty clear one government has placed grinding a political axe above saving the environment - and it isn’t her one.

Yip, it was a long clunky consultation before a plan was agreed that seemed to suit larger, producers better than small ones. And being fairly suspicious of big business, that would always strike underdog-loving Scots as cack-handed.

Yep, it was a bad move on the part of the Circularity Minister not to come on the BBC Sunday Show when problems first emerged and face the music.

Since that early mistake Lorna Slater has been more visible, but the die was quickly cast.

She looked defensive and the Scottish Government’s green wing seemed to have something to hide, especially when Westminster pelters followed criticism from SNP leadership candidates and support from Scottish Labour and the LibDems faded away.

It’s worth remembering the Deposit Return Scheme was backed by every party at Holyrood including the Conservatives.

Yip, process problems emerged – as they always do before a big change, including countries that’ve already implemented deposit return schemes like Norway, where shopkeepers still complain about lack of storage space, five years on.

But miraculously, "tiny" Norway, Sweden and Denmark managed to implement different deposit return schemes without being boycotted by the drinks industry as too small to bother with – albeit only Denmark included glass.

But let’s get some perspective.

These process problems were as nothing compared to the sudden about-turn when Alister Jack suddenly decided glass could not be included, years after just such a scheme was included in the Tory manifesto, months after he said devolved governments had free rein to develop schemes as they saw fit and weeks after a big donation to the Tory party by a big drinks manufacturer.

The tin lid was not any fault by the Scottish Government – it was Westminster’s decision not to offer an exemption from the Internal Market Act, fast becoming a legislative fire blanket to smother all initiative by pesky progressive devolved governments.

As Paul Kavanagh observed in yesterday’s paper "No real explanation has been given for the surprise change of mind, other than the British Government version of: 'Because we say so, suck it up.'"

In short, we are back to might is right. Westminster can kick sand in Holyrood’s face and get away with it, because they hold all the legislative cards, because they don’t much care about the environment, and because they have jettisoned their "koombaya" hug-a-Jock strategy and are embarking on a scorched earth policy before their likely political demise next May.

Alister "Viceroy" Jack has already accepted "elevation" to the Lords by crony boss Johnson, so he just doesn’t care what happens next.

The Tories tried "devolve and forget" under Theresa May and the ill-fated "Union unit" under Boris Johnson before switching to the current strategy of Union Jack-badged hardball - forcing a reluctant Scottish Government to back UK initiatives like Green Freeports and now thwarting any attempt to get ahead of Westminster’s glacial, half-hearted progress towards net zero.

They’re simply rubbing Holyrood’s nose in it and this total disrespect agenda has worked, by dividing progressive and even pro-indy opinion.

So the Scottish Government is getting in the neck from absolutely every side on the DRS "climbdown" – including Biffa, the contractor set to handle the billions of cans and bottles and Circularity Scotland, the overseeing firm set up by the drinks industry – who insist a slightly altered scheme could still continue without glass.

Biffa says postponement sends a “seismic and detrimental signal” to business and undermines the Scottish government’s reputation as a “legislator that can be relied upon.”


But that was always Alister Jack’s intent.

And it’s true. Since Westminster awarded itself the unique blocking-mechanism of the Internal Market Act, devolved governments cannot be relied upon.

Could Holyrood proceed? Lorna Slater is quite right to say an amended scheme could be unilaterally changed by Rishi Sunak whenever he feels like it.

Welcome to Britain.

It’s a precise re-run of the Supreme Court verdict – albeit decided by judges who were simply interpreting a British constitution in which Westminster sovereignty is so unassailable that the "world’s most powerfully devolved parliament" cannot lawfully consult its own people about anything.

That’s when the gloves really came off.

Holyrood looked small because it is small. That’s why so many of us want independence. But that point cannot be rammed home if Scottish parliamentarians are determined to make it look big.

That urge is understandable.

No-one who backs self-determination wants to call Holyrood a pretendy parliament. It’s produced far too many important bits of legislation improving Scotland. But how many would have survived the Internal Market Act?

We are living in a completely different situation today, where devolution is merely being tholed and made to look weak and insignificant. And weirdly, it’s completely apolitical folk like Dr Kat Jones, director of Action to Protect Rural Scotland, who can see precisely what’s happening. Westminster hobbling Holyrood.

She says: "The prospects for change through devolution are gradually being closed down, which should concern people, whatever their views on independence.

"It’s hard to see Westminster agreeing to the Scottish Government’s policy to end the sale of internal combustion engines by 2032. But there appear to be few limits to what can be blocked – irrespective of how far down the road we may be.

"It’s hard not to feel a wave of existential despair watching a well-tested and proven environmental policy such as this become fodder for myths, political U-turns and intense industry lobbying.

"If we cannot bring in the European gold standard for recycling, it’s hard to see how we can make what the IPCC calls the 'rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society' required to keep our planet habitable for the long term."

Dr Jones has got it in one.

Here we all are doubting one another, squabbling within the independence "family" and preferring to indulge in "friendly fire" against the Scottish Government instead of standing together and getting some perspective.

I don’t know whether Holyrood could have pressed on with a more limited scheme. But that’s not the salient point.

Westminster’s determination to bring Holyrood to heel like a pet poodle is victory for an industry that never wanted change.

Everywhere else the polluter pays. In Britain, the cost of litter and waste disposal has been shouldered by the taxpayer and not one finger-pointing interview in the wake of the DRS "climbdown" tried to explore that shabby reality.   

All the evidence from the world’s 50 desposit return schemes suggests that a 20p refund would get 90% of cans and bottles sold back into the system, off our streets, out of our countryside and seas and into higher-quality recycling, cutting emissions and reducing demand for virgin materials at almost twice the rate of our current recycling schemes.

But hey. Evidence, the planet, shifting the burden of recycling onto business, protecting our parliament? Who cares, when Yessers can so easily be encouraged to direct their ire towards Green members of their own Scottish Government instead?

You’ve got to hand it to Alister Jack. He’s finally figured how to derail independence. Get Yessers to do it for him.

Let’s not.