THE big story in Scottish politics today is the one that cannot really be commented on due to Scotland's strict laws about contempt of court and not saying anything in public which might prejudice the outcome of criminal proceedings.

Yesterday, former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, the husband of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, was charged with embezzlement following Police Scotland's three year-long investigation into the SNP’s finances.

Nothing has yet been released about the details of the alleged offence.

The matter has now gone to the Crown Office, who will decide whether the evidence warrants the case going to trial.

We cannot comment on the specifics of the matter but this development means that the SNP now faces the nightmare of going into a Westminster General Election, which was already expected to be difficult, with the potential spectre of the criminal trial of a senior party figure looming over its head.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon speaks out after Peter Murrell charged by police

Hopefully, this development is the final chapter in the long running Operation Branchform saga - although Police Scotland has insisted that the investigation is on-going.

While there are undoubtedly rocky days ahead in the short to medium term, we can begin to see the distant light of Scottish independence politics in the post-Branchform, and post-Salmond and Sturgeon era.

The independence movement must find a way out of this stalemate

Achieving a nation's independence is never easy, and Scotland's pro-independence parties and the wider independence movement have perhaps been naive about the scale of the challenges that we face.

The idea of independence has now been normalised in mainstream Scottish politics, which in itself is a remarkable achievement given that it was successfully kicked to the margins by the powerful forces of the British nationalist parties, the deeply ingrained Scottish cultural cringe, and a Scottish media which is overwhelmingly dominated by traditional Unionism.

It is only within the past year or so that it has begun to dawn that we are facing British nationalist opponents who will not hesitate to stoop to nakedly anti-democratic means in order to thwart the legitimate drive for Scottish independence, shifting the goalposts in order to ensure that a democratic vote on independence is forever outwith our grasp.

READ MORE: Why comments are blocked on our Peter Murrell articles

We now know that voting for a Scottish Parliament which has a clear and unequivocal mandate for a Scottish independence referendum is no longer deemed sufficient for a referendum by a Westminster which continues to insist that Scotland is a member of a voluntary union even as it refuses to specify any democratic route to another vote on independence which is not subject to a veto by a British prime minister.

We are currently in a stalemate, which suits the Labour and Conservative parties just fine. The pro-independence parties and the wider movement have yet to work out how to break that stalemate in a way that ensures that a clear and unarguable majority of Scots are on board with it.

With support for independence enjoying a huge majority amongst younger age groups, that is not a situation that will last indefinitely.

The log-jam will eventually break, and it will do so because of the demographics of independence support are gradually changing Scotland into a nation in which independence will become the settled will of the people.

The National: The new report is a game-changer for the Yes movement

The new era of Scottish independence politics which is gradually developing will be an era dominated and shaped by a younger generation of politicians, responding to the needs and concerns of a younger generation of Scottish voters who take the idea of Scottish self-government for granted and who are far less influenced by older and outdated notions of the supposed global importance of Britain.

The cause of independence will be buffeted by storms, it will face crises and difficult times like those it is currently experiencing, but we are travelling on a river which leads inexorably and inevitably to one destination: the wide blue open sea of independence.

Rishi Sunak’s latest display of inhumanity shows the desperate need for independence

While Scottish politics is transfixed by the developments around the police investigation into SNP finances, the Conservative government continues to demonstrate why independence is so desperately needed if Scotland is to have any hope of creating a more compassionate and humane society.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced today that he is considering making major changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the most important disability benefit for people of working age.

Sunak is considering withdrawing PIP from some people with mental health conditions, prompting claims he has launched a "full-on assault on disabled people".

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf speaks after Peter Murrell charged by police

In a speech delivered at the right wing think tank the Centre for Social Justice - perhaps more accurately called the Centre for Social Injustice - Sunak said he was launching a consultation on PIP, a non-means-tested benefit paid to disabled people to help with the extra living costs caused by long-term disability or ill health.

Sunak said that in addition to reviewing payments to people with certain mental health conditions, the government would look at whether some other disabled people should get help with one-off costs rather than continuing payments.

Announcing the review, Sunak claimed that Britain has a "sicknote culture" that needs to be tackled, apparently by heaping even further misery upon vulnerable people.

The National: Rishi Sunak

Sunak is not only pandering to the cruelty of the right with this nasty move, he is also delusional.

Getting PIP is very far from easy, even when, like me, you live with serious and significant physical disabilities which will be lifelong.

The process is light years away from the facile presentation of a sicknote from a sympathetic doctor that Sunak suggests. It is demeaning, intrusive and exhausting.

Scotland is in the process of rolling out its own replacement for PIP, the Scottish Adult Disability Payment, but funding decisions made in Westminster have direct consequences for the Scottish block grant, making it more difficult for Scotland to maintain a more generous and humane regime.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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