It is hard to articulate just how terrifying the current political climate is. Theresa May is dancing around like a flailing inflatable balloon, Brexit is looming, the NHS is in crisis – UK politics is a ubiquity of tragedy and Scottish independence is one of the few things that makes sense. This month, the biggest independence demonstration in Scottish history took place in Edinburgh, reflective of just how critical independence is in Scotland today.
The debate has largely remained the same, with one notable exception; the looming issue that is Brexit. The Brexit vote is in every way indicative of how Westminster has silenced the Scottish political voice (Scotland voted 62 per cent in favour of remain). Since 1945 there have been 17 Conservative governments. Scotland has voted in a Conservative government three times – evidently, Scotland is never heard in the broader context of Westminster politics. From general elections to Brexit, to deciding to take military action against Syria in 2015, the theft of a nation’s voice by an unfair political system instantaneously explains the want (or perhaps need), for a sovereign Scottish government.
The independence movement is only gaining momentum. Senior figures in the Scottish National Party (SNP) have called for Sturgeon’s approach to independence to become more “urgent” and delegates of the SNP gathered in Glasgow last weekend to discuss the prospect of a second independence referendum. But with the uncertainty of the Brexit deal, Scotland’s place in the UK is ever more fragile and complex. That being said, these contentions by no means reflect a loss of necessity in the independence debate.
Currently, 41 per cent of Scots are in favour of a second independence vote while 47 per cent are opposed, according to IPSOS MORI. However, the current abject political disillusionment is a critical concern regarding how people are responding to the referendum. Many of the concerns regarding independence are the same as they were four years ago; what would the economic impact be, how could we be sovereign if we were still to use Sterling as our currency and what would the implications be of changing, and how would it impact the job market and our overall relationship to the UK.
Devolution has given much more freedom to Scotland in terms of its governance. Devolved powers include things like health, education, local government and law. Devolution has indisputably given more autonomy to the Scottish government, but it is still a long stretch from sovereignty. It is also important to remember how David Cameron used devolution as a bargaining chip during the independence referendum, but only when he saw a genuine prospect of a leave vote, which could be indicative of a lack of respect from Westminster towards Holyrood.
Indeed this is arguably shown by the fact that the UK Parliament retains control over defence, national security, immigration and foreign policy – each critical aspects of modern politics and crucial to national sovereignty. When thinking about the differing attitudes towards foreign policy, remember this – Nicola Sturgeon instantly acknowledged and condemned Trump’s vicious abhorrence. Theresa May has held his hand.
Edinburgh will always be at the heart of the independence debate, and if the independence march held last weekend is indicative of anything, it is that palpable change is an absolute necessity.
Image: Tom Donald via Flickr