“Decisions about Scotland should be taken by those who live here”

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Emma Roddick has welcomed the latest Scottish Government paper which is part of ‘Building A New Scotland‘ : A series of papers, which will form a prospectus for an independent Scotland.

This second paper ‘Renewing Democracy through Independence’ examines what the Scottish Government describe as the democratic deficit in the UK state.

Emma Roddick said:

“This latest paper lays bare that when decisions are made by Westminster, it’s the people of Scotland that lose out.

“Hundreds of billions in oil revenue squandered by the UK Treasury, a crippling decade of Tory austerity and the economic and social disaster that is Brexit is the legacy of Westminster control faced by families in Orkney

“Decisions about Scotland should be taken by those who live here – not by politicians we don’t vote for or unelected Lords. That’s why Scotland needs independence – and Westminster politicians cannot continue to stand in the way of the democratic right of the people of Scotland to choose a better future.

“There will soon come a time when the opposition will have to engage in the substance of the independence argument. It will then be for them to explain why Westminster control would be better than the full powers of independence where Scotland takes our own decisions.”

‘Renewing Democracy Through Independence’ sets the scene with a quote from Canon Kenyon Wright in 1989 , Scottish Constitutional Convention:

“What if that other voice we all know so well responds by saying, ‘We say no, and we are the state’? Well we say yes – and we are the people.”

It took another ten years before the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999.

The Scottish Parliament reconvenes credit image Scottish Parliament

Back in 1999 the Scottish Parliament met in the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, on the Mound in Edinburgh. The present Parliament building was not finished and ready for its first debate until 2004. Since then the political party share of MSPs has changed but the nature of proportional representation by which Scotland elects its MSPs means it is almost impossible for any party to have an outright majority.

  • 1999: Labour and Lib/Dems form a coalition Government – then known as an ‘Executive’
  • 2003: Labour and Lib/Dems continue in a coalition Government
  • 2007: The SNP form a minority Government
  • 2011: The SNP form a majority Government
  • 2016: The SNP form a minority Government
  • 2021: The SNP and Scottish Greens negotiate a power sharing agreement

The SNP and The Scottish Greens with 64 and 8 seats respectively are committed to holding a Scottish Independence Referendum. The Conservatives, Labour and Lib/Dems with 31, 22 and 4 seats are opposed to both Scottish Independence and to holding a referendum. 72 v 57 seats.

The Scottish Government argue that the Scottish Parliament has a mandate from the People of Scotland to hold an Independence Referendum and they have suggested the date of 19th of October 2023.

Scotland’s MPs are elected by the ‘First Past The Post’ system. They represent the constituencies of Scotland in the House of Commons which legislates for the UK on matters which are not covered by the devolved governments.

In the 2019 UK General Election the MPs elected were: SNP 48, Conservative 6, Labour 1, Lib/Dems 4. The SNP was the only political party in Scotland at that election to increase its vote. Since that election 2 SNP MPs went over to the newly formed Alba Party.

Scotland has not voted for a majority of Conservative MPs since 1955.

The House of Commons is made up of 650 MPs, Scotland has 59 in total – 48 of whom are voted in by people who wish Scotland to be an independent country. No matter how hard the 59 MPs work for their constituents in Scotland, their actual votes during decision time make no difference. This means that on extremely important matters their voice does not count.

The Scottish Parliament can only make decisions on the following:

  • agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • benefits (some aspects)
  • consumer advocacy and advice
  • economic development
  • education and training
  • elections to the Scottish Parliament and local government
  • energy (some aspects)
  • environment
  • equality legislation (some aspects)
  • fire services
  • freedom of information
  • health and social services
  • housing
  • justice and policing
  • local government
  • planning
  • sport and the arts
  • taxation (some aspects)
  • tourism
  • transport (some aspects)

The Scottish Government has a limited amount of money it can fund services and projects in Scotland. It cannot run up a deficit and must keep to the budget it has been given from Westminster through the devolved agreement – the Barnett formula. Scotland receives a % of its revenues/taxes back, the rest are retained to pay for matters reserved to the UK government to decide :

Reserved matters include:

  • benefits (some aspects)
  • betting and gambling
  • broadcasting
  • constitution (some aspects) 
  • consumer protection policy
  • currency
  • data protection
  • defence and national security
  • equality legislation (most aspects)
  • energy (most aspects)
  • elections to the UK Parliament
  • employment law and industrial relations
  • financial services
  • foreign affairs
  • immigration, asylum and visas
  • nationality and citizenship
  • postal services
  • taxation (some aspects)
  • telecommunications
  • trade and industry
  • transport (some aspects)

Increasingly the UK Government has introduced legislation into the Houses of Parliament which encroach into the matters which are devolved to decision makers in Scotland.

Throw into all this the advisory referendum on leaving the European Union in 2016 which saw every local authority area of Scotland voting to Remain in. Despite the overwhelming desire of Scots to remain in the EU , the whole of the UK was taken out.

It is not consistent with the UK as a voluntary association of nations, expressing themselves through democratic institutions, for anyone other than the people of Scotland, through our elected Scottish Parliament, to decide when a referendum should take place

Renewing Democracy Through Independence

Since reconvening in 1999, Scotland’s Parliament (whichever party was in Government) has made decisions for the People of Scotland . Scotland has been charting its own course now for over 20 years : an increased voter franchise so more people are involved in our democratic processes; free NHS prescriptions; the successful Baby Box; extra financial support to mitigate the Tory UK Government’s welfare ‘reforms’; no student fees – just a small sample of the differences people living in Scotland experience to rUK.

These are choices which have been made by the politicians we elect to represent us in the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government in ‘Renewing Democracy Through Independence state that “Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom requires the ongoing consent of the people of Scotland” and that “the people of Scotland must be able to decide whether and when they exercise their right to choose.”

Fiona Grahame

1 reply »

Leave a Reply