THE world waits. By the time this goes to press, Israeli troops may have invaded Gaza.

With no way to leave and no water or food getting in, the situation in Gaza today is about as grim as any other on earth. Ironically, the folk who could most easily empathise with Palestinians losing children in air bombardments are Israelis grieving the very same loss after weekend massacres by Hamas.

Soon, the whole untenable nature of this situation must be addressed. But now, it’s essential that humanitarian aid gets in.

And whilst it seems wrong to consider any other issue, we must use this massive attack on democracy to sit up and get active about developments in our own domain.

What’s dominated the domestic headlines is the Labour conference and Keir Starmer’s vision for a new Britain.

What’s striking is not so much the ideas or the lack of obvious ways to fund them – but the lack of respect for democracy in almost all of them. This week Starmer dismissed the prospects of a border poll in Northern Ireland, saying that a referendum on Irish unification is “not even on the horizon”.

That is not the UK Government’s shout. It’s a decision that rests with the people of Northern Ireland. And Labour should know that.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer makes direct pitch to Tory voters to join Labour

It is (partly) their creation – enabled by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which was approved by referendums north and south of the border and signed off by Tony Blair.

How dare Starmer mess with that? Nor is it democratic to “bulldoze” past local planning procedures to press ahead and build Westminster-designed new towns.

Yes, new homes are needed. Yes, the planning system favours inertia. Yes, the Labour leader promises consultation with locals. A bit. And yes, some have drawn parallels with Labour’s 1945 government, which maintained the central command structure developed during wartime to push through housing projects and New Towns, many of which worked, but some of which were fairly disastrous.

But here’s the wee thing.

Despite 13 terrible years of Tory rule, Britain isn’t emerging from a war.

There’s no justification for muzzling and short-cutting democracy to “get things done”.

Look at all our small successful, well-housed, north European neighbours – they have powerful ultra-local municipalities and the best-housed people in the world.

But Starmer’s Britain is marching swiftly in the opposite direction.

“There will be a package of devolution to regional mayors, [with] stronger powers over planning and housing investment.”

Right – regional mayors without regional government. Sweet. Do we need more disembodied local “heads”? England is stappit fu with mayors who preside over “combined authorities” that didn’t elect them and often don’t even like them.

READ MORE: Labour's naked nationalism shown by more than UK flags

As one “ordinary" council chief said recently: “We have to work with a mayor we did not want while he has to work with a cabinet he did not choose.” Mmmm. Let’s have more of that Keir.

Meanwhile, Labour plans to bypass the Scottish Parliament to dole out cash directly to communities. Not only is this a straight lift from the Tory Playbook of how to destabilise a country, the Scottish Parliament (like the Good Friday Agreement) is Labour’s own blinkin’ creation.

And as for Starmer giving Scotland elected mayors, how about Anas Sarwar getting elected to run Holyrood first, devising a democratic system of truly local elected councils – and then re-establishing blinkin’ Provosts. But mayors? Honestly, gies peace.

The National:

Secondly, there were no big wows for Scots in most of Starmer’s plans.

One big idea is New Towns with buildings that “emulate five-storey townhouses built during the 18th and 19th centuries”. Wait a minute, doesn’t that sound familiar? They’re tenements folks!

You know – the urban housing style deployed by every European country but unique to Scotland in Britain and the reason Glasgow and Edinburgh regularly top the UK liveability charts.

So, is Starmer’s five-storey townhouse an exciting idea for Scots? In the words of Monty Python and the Holy Grail – we got one already.

There’s also talk of bringing back council housing. Whoop, whoop! In Scotland, council-house building restarted after Thatcher’s destructive right to buy was abolished by the Scottish Government in 2016. That’s seven years ago.

Still, I’m sure the idea is exciting for folk down south, even if it’s hard to see how it can work when the right to buy remains in place.

Meanwhile Labour’s big wow for education is teaching five-year-olds currency exchange rates.

Whit! They shouldn’t even be in school!

UK Labour is planning a review into early years. But they don’t need one. NO modern democracy apart from the Dutch (weirdly enough) sends kids to school at four and five.

The SNP and Green conferences got it right last year, when they voted to raise the Scottish school starting age to six. Now of course that’s easier said than done. But no-one here is still wondering if it’s a good idea. Our welfare system has also advanced hugely in the last 10 years especially with the Scottish Child Payment.

The National:

Meanwhile Labour won’t abolish Universal Credit or the two-child cap. I suppose the party could argue that if the bedroom tax is abolished at a UK level, the Scottish government can stop spending money on mitigation.

That would be true, if Starmer had any plans to abolish the bedroom tax.

He doesn’t. Yip, Labour are that far behind Scotland’s curve.

READ MORE: Chain of Freedom: What representatives have said about the event

Thirdly, any modest change eventually offered by a UK Labour government will be totally temporary. Unless destructive privatisations are reversed, unless Brexit is tackled, Labour’s decade of renewal will be spent fighting deep-seated structural problems with both hands tied behind their collective backs.

And if a Labour government with a 20-point lead can’t/won’t undo Thatcher – who will?

England is a near structurally conservative state – the only one in Europe using First Past The Post except Belarus and the only country to privatise its most precious resource – water. If these are low priorities for Starmer, there won't be a second term.

That’s the reality facing Scottish voters. Of course it’s tempting to pop political painkillers instead of tackling what’s really wrong. But Labour’s fix is so temporary.

Scots can take a few paracetamol, vote Labour and get limited respite for five years – or support indy and get precisely the kind of social change they want.

Finally, though it’s not all doom and gloom.

A Labour UK victory could actually reactivate the Yes movement.

Not just because Scottish elections in 2026 will come at the mid-term of a Starmer government faithfully sticking to all the Tory spending plans; not just because tackling the democratic deficit in the north of England will make it harder to ignore Scotland – especially if there’s a referendum on a new northern assembly to appease Andy Burnham; not just because “wheesht for Starmer” will soon wear thin for Scottish Labour MSPs who back Scotland’s right to self determination – but mostly because the Yes movement will be galvanised by having a new face of the Union to square up to.

The start of Starmer’s “reign” could prompt the biggest indy marches ever to show the “new guard” indy ain’t going away. I honestly think that will happen.

Of course, there are lots of problems to iron out between now and then – not least the SNP’s own General Election strategy. But there’s hope. And the best way to nurture it is connecting with like-minded folk.

For some that’s the Chain of Freedom on Saturday. For others that’s the SNP conference on Sunday.

But mindful that democracy has slipped away from millions this awful week, Yessers must stay active, vigilant and hopeful.