Renewing democracy through independence

This paper sets out the Scottish Government’s view that people who live in Scotland have the right to choose how they should be governed and to decide if Scotland should become an independent country. It is the second in the ‘Building a New Scotland’ series, focusing on independence.

First Minister's Foreword

The Scottish Government believes the best future for Scotland is to become an independent country.

With independence, decisions about Scotland would be taken by the people who live here through their elected Scottish Parliament and government.

In this, the second paper in the Building a New Scotland series, we set out key democratic considerations to help people in Scotland make an informed choice about their future.

The current constitutional arrangements allow the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government to exercise powers on 'devolved' matters, such as health and education, while the Westminster Parliament and UK Government have control of 'reserved' issues such as foreign affairs and most aspects of tax, energy, macroeconomic, and social security policy.

However, Westminster retains ultimate power – even on devolved matters – and over recent years, as this paper shows, the UK Government has acted to override decisions of the Scottish Parliament and claw back powers in devolved areas.

It has done so despite having the support of a relatively small proportion of the electorate in Scotland. The current governing party at Westminster, for example, has just six MPs representing Scotland and has not won an election in Scotland for almost 70 years.

This 'democratic deficit' has real-life consequences. In this paper we set out the impact of the damaging decisions taken by the UK Government and Westminster Parliament against the wishes and interests of the people of Scotland. The most obvious example in recent times – and with far reaching consequences – is Brexit, which removed Scotland from the EU despite the people who live here voting to remain.

There is now a substantial majority in the Scottish Parliament in favour of – indeed elected on a clear commitment to deliver – a referendum, to give the people of Scotland the choice of independence.

In an independent Scotland we can forge a better relationship – an equal partnership – with the rest of the UK, instead of the UK Government being able to assert 'Westminster sovereignty' regardless of the views of the Scottish Parliament or the people of Scotland.

Other people will have different views of course and we welcome the debate on how the democratic interests and voice of Scotland can best be served.

Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP
First Minister of Scotland



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