LIKE many other young activists, I got involved in politics not to consolidate a career but because we want justice. People the length and breadth of these islands are in desperate need of change and justice.

Yet, the changing of the guard in No 10 from a corrupt crony to a careerist neoliberal isn’t the “change” we need. While Unionist party leaders can afford to wait yet another decade for many of the necessary reforms, it’s quixotic, insulting and unrealistic to demand that disparate young people, starving families, freezing pensioners and exhausted workers wait for these changes to take effect.

Neither Labour nor the Tories are interested in tackling the cost of living nor the democratic and climate crises – but rather exacerbate them with policies like NHS charges, corporation tax cuts and no electoral reform.

Hence, we face a dire situation, stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want a future on this planet, in a socially just country, with a functioning economy and a protected democratic system – none of which is possible under Westminster. Scotland has the opportunity to facilitate the change we need with independence.

Independence would provide the very necessary catalyst to deliver genuine, pragmatic reform in the UK. In turn, it would allow for the Scottish Government to be an equal, independent neighbour and partner to the UK Government – resetting our current toxic relationship.

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Not only would we be able to pursue a closer relationship which suits our geopolitical and socioeconomic needs, but actually start to address many of the problems we face in Scotland that we are currently unable to within the limitations of devolution.

Fundamentally, the Scottish Parliament can only mitigate the damage without independence – and this is just not good enough. Scotland can be the example to disprove much of the right-wing media scaremongering in the rest of the UK, proving the success of progressive green policies, a wellbeing economy and a positive relationship with the EU.

As a young person, I cannot see a future for me in the UK, and I’m really beginning to wonder whether I need to leave the UK to get a job and build a livelihood, or if I can continue to live here in an independent Scotland. That is the reality that many young people face, and part of the reason why so many of us are pro-independence.

However, as much as I believe independence is the necessary vehicle to deliver these changes, I also recognise the problems of a plebiscite election. If it’s successful and pro-independence parties win a majority, that doesn’t mean this mandate will be respected, and could be ignored by the UK.

If it’s unsuccessful, Westminster will use this as a justification to stop any referendum for the foreseeable future. A lot to lose, with very little to gain. So, let’s take a page out of Westminster’s book – and used their system against them. Let’s take the campaign to England.

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I believe we should adopt “Common Election Pledges” – a series of shared, progressive, policies and pledges for reform to be delivered, under the agreement that only one candidate who agrees to the pledges may stand in each constituency. Such pledges could include the permanent devolution of a Section 30 to allow a legally binding independence referendum, the abolition of the House of Lords, electoral reform, reversing anti-strike legislation and delivering land reform.

We could ask left-leaning UK parties to commit to these pledges. Recognising that much of Labour’s support is not from the charisma of a deeply unpopular leader but a rejection of the Tories means we can provide an alternative for apathetic, pro-EU, swing and progressive voters to show their frustration with Labour and the Tories.

The first outcome is that Starmer has to accept these policies to maintain his majority and thus give us the powers to legislate for a referendum permanently. The second outcome is that Starmer refuses to accept them, which could really hurt his chances with swing and apathetic left voters.

The third option is this doesn’t work, Starmer gets his majority and he rejects the policies altogether. In this scenario, it will heavily backfire on Labour in the polls post-election, causing support for independence to go up, with this as solid proof that reform will not be happening anytime soon within the UK.

In each scenario, we either get a referendum, influence in Westminster to deliver a referendum, or independence support goes up and the case is proven.

In order for democratic, social, economic and climate justice to be realised, Scotland needs independence – and so too does England. This, I believe, will not only be the strategy to win independence but to secure genuine progressive reform for the UK.

Callum Cox

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