IT may have taken almost 10 years but the mask has well and truly slipped from the faces of those who have clung to the main argument devised by those who argued against independence in the run-up to the 2014 referendum.

Don’t leave the Union … lead the Union, they pleaded. They suggested the Westminster Parliament had open ears to the argument that Scotland deserved more power over its own affairs and that a properly federal UK was just round the corner.

To be honest we remain uncertain what arguments swung it for the pro-Union case way back then. Was it the economy? A perceived threat to pensions? A simple failure of courage and lack of self-confidence? It remains hard to be certain and therefore impossible to know how effective the infamous Vow was when it was plastered all over the front page of the Daily Record in the closing days of campaigning.

The National: The Vow brought together the three main UK party leaders at the time to promise more powers for Scotland

That front page still makes me wince, and not just because it beat the “Sunday Herald says Yes” issue to become Front Page of the Year at the Scottish Press awards.

Interpretations of the Vow are varied. Was it, for example, a last-ditch effort to rally support to the Better Together cause after opinion polls showed gathering momentum for indy? Or was it a bid by the paper to hold the feet of pro-Union politicians the fire by attaching their signature to various promises of extra power for Scotland if it voted No?

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It’s impossible to know for certain, just as we cannot be sure how important it was to the delivery of that No vote just days later. What we do know is those promises have been broken and that any suggestion that Westminster ever had any intention of giving Scotland even a smidgeon more power within the Union was quickly shown to be risible.

Slowly but surely Westminster made its position clear. Scotland voted against Brexit … but it was pushed through in its most extreme form. Scotland asked that some form of access to the single market be retained … but the drawbridge was pulled up on the very idea and our elected representatives were excluded from negotiations. Scotland’s economy would have benefitted from immigration yet the UK imposed the most brutal and heartless curbs on immigration.

In the 2015 General Election, Scotland returned an overwhelming SNP majority and established a pattern, which has been repeated at every election since. Yet SNP politicians have been ridiculed and treated with blatant disrespect in the Westminster corridors of power.

But still the likes of Gordon Brown continued to argue that federalism was just around the corner and that devolution would somehow be extended in upcoming legislation, which never appeared.

The National: Gordon Brown at a Better Together rally on September 11, 2014 in Kilmarnock. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images).

As recently as December last year Brown, with Labour’s UK and Scottish leaders in tow, presented plans on “how a Labour government would redistribute power throughout the UK”.

He mooted giving the Scottish Parliament a binding veto over devolved issues and the ability to join international arrangements such as the Erasmus scheme, the EU initiative to offer university students the chance to study abroad.

And he said Labour would consider scrapping the House of Lords and replacing it with an elected “assembly of the nations and regions” – that’s Unionist-speak for anywhere unfortunate enough to be outside London – which would give Scotland a “louder, prouder voice”.

As recently as June, the former Labour prime minister unveiled the party’s so-called Alliance for Radical Democratic Change. It would, said Brown, ensure “the way we run ourselves is more democratic, less corrupt, and more responsive to the wishes of people from across our diverse nation”.

Of course, we should have realised Labour leader Keir Starmer’s support for such a campaign was a signal it would be reversed within days. There has barely been a single Labour policy initiative that has not been shown the door by a leader incapable of living up to a promise.

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And so it has come to pass. Stammer this week changed his mind on gender recognition reform which was supported by members of all parties, including his own, at Holyrood but which he now does not now regard as the “right way forward”.

So much for being “responsive to the wishes” of people from across the UK. He’s ignored the votes of his own party in Scotland and left its leader in Scotland Anas Sarwar looking like a powerless puppet.

But then that’s the status Labour figures want to enforce on the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish people have consistently elected independence-supporting MPs and MSPs for more than a decade yet there are Labour moves to strip them of their powers to effectively campaign for their key policy.

How else would you define Labour peer George Foulkes’s calls for Scottish ministers to be fined for spending government money in support of their manifesto pledge to make independence a reality?

Anyone in doubt of Foulkes’s determination to undermine the Scottish Parliament would have been convinced of it by his latest intervention this week, when he dismissed any notion of the Union as a partnership of equals as a “myth pushed by the SNP”.

It would be a mistake to dismiss Foulkes’s comments as simply the opinions of a lone wolf. One minute officials at Westminster’s Scotland Office are denying any probe into Scottish Government spending on independence campaigning, the next Cabinet Office minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe is confirming that such “sanctions” would be considered as part of a Cabinet Manual review.

Foulkes’s comments about the nature of the Union have of course provoked criticism from independence supporters and quite rightly. But where are the denials from senior Labour figures? Where is the outcry from Brown? Where is the support for Scotland from Sarwar? And what about those politicians who have specifically referred to the Union as a partnership as equals? What about former Labour chancellor and Better Together leader Alistair Darling, who said in 2012: “Today we are equal partners in the United Kingdom. With independence, Scotland’s budget would have to be approved beyond the Border. That’s not freedom. That’s not independence. That’s serfdom.”

Members of his own party are openly talking about Westminster not just controlling the Scottish budget but actively imposing fines on Scottish ministers who dare to ignore its demands. Where is Darling’s opposition to “serfdom”?

The National: Alistair Darling

There is only silence from these voices, a supine acquiescence in attempts to curb Scottish powers and to reduce our democratically elected representatives to the status of helpless bystanders. This is what follows 2014’s “lovebombs”. This is the inevitable result when Westminster believes it can shut the door firmly on any chance of Scotland achieving independence. When it no longer feels it has to woo us it simply dismisses us.

We know what will happen if Foulkes gets his way and stops the Scottish Government showing that there is an escape from an economic system that drives ordinary families into poverty while British Gas announces a profit surge to £969 million … 10 times last year’s.

Or showing there is an alternative to condemning migrants to misery in Rwanda instead of welcoming them to Scotland, where their hard work will boost our economy.

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What will happen is that we will never see documents such as yesterday’s inspiring Building A New Scotland paper, which explains that it is entirely possible through independence to welcome New Scots to our country, protect their rights, and allow us to counter the threat our ageing population presents to our economy. It also destroys the lie that independence is somehow insular and xenophobic. On the contrary, it would make it easier for those born outside our borders to become Scottish citizens.

It seems to me entirely reasonable that a vote for the SNP or the Greens is a vote for more information about the possibilities and opportunities of independence. Support for that notion is included in the manifestos of both parties and it can come as a surprise to no one that, for example, the Scottish Government created the post of minister for independence. That is how democracy works.

The question facing us today is not whether the Scottish Government should spend public money in this way. Democracy demands that it do so. The question is: Do we deserve a say in our country’s future? If you believe the answer is yes, then how do we secure it? Certainly not by meekly accepting restrictions which would limit the publication of proper information on independence or silence the Scottish Government on our constitutional future.

So while we await the SNP’s discussion on strategy at its October conference we need to decide what role we as individuals can play in the campaign for independence.

On this newspaper’s website, there’s a full list of all the upcoming Scottish independence events and protests during the rest of 2023 – click HERE to read it. They range from Believe in Scotland’s day of action on August 12 to AUOB marches to an Edinburgh event by Believe in Scotland and YesforEU on September 2 where speakers include Humza Yousaf, Jamie Hepburn and my fellow columnists Lesley Riddoch and Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp.

Time to get your diaries out.