THE recent UK Supreme Court ruling stated that without an agreement between the Scottish and UK governments, the Scottish Parliament hasn’t the power to legislate for an independence referendum under the Scotland Act 1998, even with a mandate from the people of Scotland.

Whilst the SNP accepts the legal ruling, it clearly doesn’t settle the political and democratic question.

The Court didn’t decide if there should be a referendum on Scotland’s future or point to any democratic means by which Scotland could choose her own future without Westminster’s permission.

An Act passed by the UK Parliament that prevents Scotland from choosing our own future no matter how we vote, exposes as myth any notion of the UK as a partnership of nations. In a voluntary union, one nation doesn’t have to rely on the agreement of another before it is allowed to leave or even contemplate leaving.

Without a clear democratic route to allow Scotland’s people to choose their own future, this is not a voluntary union.

We were promised before the 2014 referendum that the UK would operate as a ‘partnership of equals’, but there can be no equal relationship where one partner refuses to accept or even acknowledge decisions made by other partners. It’s more like a shotgun wedding!

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The UK Government’s response to the Supreme Court ruling has been triumphalist and intransigent. The Tories’ man in Scotland, Scottish Secretary and Baron-in-waiting Alister Jack MP was asked to explain the democratic route for Scotland to decide its future and repeatedly failed to answer, saying only that the UK Government would somehow know when the time was right to ‘grant‘ another referendum.

In successive elections Scotland elect SNP representatives with a mandate for an independence referendum in greater numbers than our opponents and yet we are told that the only route to a referendum is to wait for a UK government to allow one.

Opinion polls since the Supreme Court ruling show a majority for independence in every age group under 65. Recent Westminster chaos has damaged the UK economy, accelerated inflation and impacted household budgets, all inflicted by successive Tory governments that Scotland rejected at the ballot box.

There’s an urgent need for Scotland to govern itself in order to ensure the economic stability this Tory Government has consistently failed to deliver.

Labour is helping the Tories to keep us trapped in the UK, rather than help Scotland become a better, more equal country through independence. Indeed, across Scotland, in councils from Edinburgh and Fife to North Lanarkshire and West Lothian the Tories and Labour are in coalition and campaigned together during the 2014 independence referendum.

The First Minister stands ready to discuss an adjustment to the devolution settlement to enable a lawful, democratic referendum to take place or the SNP will approach the next UK General Election as a de facto referendum on independence.

The UK Government must respect democracy. Its current position is completely unsustainable and we will campaign to ensure democracy prevails, as it must.