A democratic, outward-looking Scotland
The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party believe that independence within the EU would provide the best conditions for Scotland, the people who live here, and future generations, to thrive. We will give people a choice about Scotland’s future in this parliamentary session.
The necessity and urgency of independence have been underlined by the Covid pandemic. The full range of powers of an independent country would allow Scotland to put in place a transformational recovery from the pandemic, one which will lead to a fairer and more sustainable and prosperous nation.
We recognise that a further powerful argument for independence is the undermining and erosion of the devolution settlement and the powers of the Scottish Parliament by the UK Government.
While independence is the surest way to protect and enhance the powers of the Scottish Parliament, we are in the meantime committed to doing all that we can within the UK to prevent further damage to the devolution settlement. We will also work to extend the powers of the Scottish Government and Parliament for as long as Scotland remains within the UK. We will always make clear our opposition to matters that are not in the interests of Scotland and are not supported by Scotland’s Parliament and people, such as withdrawal from the European Union and the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020.
We recognise, however, that despite this principled opposition, the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament have a duty to work within the legal framework, including international agreements, and to support cooperative working with the UK Government and other devolved administrations in equal partnership, and by consensus, to secure Scotland’s interests.
We are committed to the fullest possible democratic participation in Scotland. Turnout at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election was the highest ever, but some groups are less likely to register or vote, including 16 and 17 year-olds and foreign nationals. We want to encourage more people to register to vote, to stand as candidates and to remove the barriers some people experience so they can vote independently.
We recognise the importance and value of strengthening Scotland’s international relationships, presence and voice, including through the Scottish Government’s network of offices overseas.
Therefore, we will:
- secure a referendum on Scottish independence after the Covid crisis. This would be within the current parliamentary session on a specific date to be determined by the Scottish Parliament. If the Covid crisis has passed, our intention is for the referendum to be within the first half of the five-year parliamentary session.
- work together to make the case that Scotland should be an independent country within the European Union, recognising each party’s right and duty to set out its own arguments for, and visions of, independence.
- protect and enhance the powers and responsibilities of the Scottish Government and Parliament, securing their ability to make decisions in the best interests of Scotland.
- promote legislation on electoral reform that enables more people to stand as candidates at Scottish Parliament and local government elections and to improve the accessibility of elections, with a particular focus on people with sight loss.
- strengthen participation, by all sections of our society, in Scotland’s democratic processes. We will use strategies and initiatives that promote a dialogue with people in Scotland, including forums such as citizens assemblies to help explore complex policy issues.
- work to increase voter registration and active participation in elections by under-represented groups, including non-UK citizens and young people.
We also agree that:
- to protect devolved decision-making within the UK, we will support the development of common frameworks by negotiation and agreement with the other governments of the UK, and with accountability to the Scottish Parliament, while recognising that the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 – passed at Westminster - makes the successful agreement and implementation of common frameworks extremely challenging. We will seek to agree common approaches with the other devolved administrations to act as a counterweight to the 2020 Act.
- to protect the powers of the Scottish Parliament, we will press for the Sewel Convention to be strengthened and legally defined, and for the UK Government to respect the legislative consent decisions of the Scottish Parliament.
- to enhance the responsibilities of the Scottish Government and Parliament within the UK, we will identify areas for further devolution, for example powers to introduce candidate quotas for Scottish Parliament and local government elections as set out by the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls. We also share an ambition to extend voting to asylum seekers living in Scotland, but recognise the difficulty in achieving that within the current asylum system which would require UK Government cooperation.
- to strengthen Scotland’s international relationships, presence and voice we will:
- establish Scottish Government offices in Copenhagen and Warsaw to promote Scotland’s interests and reputation in the Nordic and Central European regions.
- review approaches to future policy and economic engagement with a view to enhancing Scotland’s global reach and presence over this parliamentary session. This will include an increased focus in the Global South including across Africa, Asia and South America, as we strengthen our relationships with emerging markets and developing countries.
- provide additional resources to Screen Scotland for the purpose of facilitating year-round engagement between the Scottish and international film & television industries, with a particular emphasis on the USA.
- Scotland has a significant role to play in the global community to promote sustainable solutions, human rights, and peace; and encourage and enhance advocacy by and in support of, the Global South, including the poorest and those living in vulnerable situations; and for peace and justice.
- we take our responsibilities to assist other nations seriously, and we will continue to make strong representations to the UK Government to reinstate International Development funding to at least 0.7% of UK gross national income.
- building on our recent review of our approach to international development, our international development programme will be based on and align with our new Principles, including their stated underlying ethos of embedding a human rights approach in all our international development work.
- we are committed to the “Beyond Aid agenda” and to better aligning policies across the Scottish Government to ensure that we ‘do no harm’, contribute to positive development outcomes overseas, and improve our collective sustainability as defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- through our recently established Ministerial working group on policy coherence for sustainable development, we will explore how we can ensure that actions across Government are consistent with: our approach to international development, including our commitment to promoting human rights and LGBTI equality internationally, and our work towards climate justice.
- we are firmly opposed to the possession, threat and use of nuclear weapons and we agree that the continued retention of nuclear weapons is morally wrong. We therefore support the objectives of the International Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and will work together to make an independent Scotland a nation free of nuclear weapons.
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