Scottish independence: Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak's dictatorial attitudes to Scotland should alarm us all – Laura Waddell

At Tuesday evening’s Tory leadership contest hustings in Perth, alarm bells were ringing for Scots’ right to democracy.

Scottish independence was always going to be a talking point. Liz Truss said, when asked her view, “To me we are not neighbours, we are family, and I will never let our family be split up”.

If this makes you uneasy, it’s not just you – it’s creepy, possessive, and more than a tad presumptuous about who has the right to make the decision.

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As for Rishi Sunak, the man with many a confidently stated but highly questionable plan, he “can’t imagine the circumstances in which he would ever allow another Scottish independence referendum".

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So much for self-determination – Sunak thinks he has the right to decide for us without even asking us. Unveiling, pre-hustings, his bright idea to subject Holyrood to greater scrutiny from the UK Parliament (while demanding data from it) demonstrates a dedicated intention to undermine and chip away at the Scottish Parliament’s authority over devolved matters.

Listen closely to those forbidding, dictatorial words: “never let”, “ever allow”. Get the message yet? The red flag flapping desperately in the wind is not that the next leader of the United Kingdom opposes Scottish independence – that we would expect – it’s that they are blatantly, one might even say flippantly, informing us of their will to quash Scotland’s right to democracy by forbidding us a democratic process.

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Scottish independence: Liz Truss says she will 'never, ever' allow UK 'family' t...

And although there is a clear and repeated mandate for another independence referendum, with Scots voting in parties with pro-independence manifestos in successive elections, there is really no circumstance in which Truss or Sunak should get to decide the height of the bar we are to jump over before they will deign to let democracy happen.

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A mural in Belfast depicts Conservative party leadership hopefuls Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss in boxing gear and the door to 10 Downing Street (Picture: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Truss and Sunak’s vision of the future, where Scots are disenfranchised at the will of our Westminster superiors, send chills down my spine, as it will many Scots, including those who voted No in 2014 and are still on the fence about independence. Even those steadfastly pro-Union should balk at this casual dismissal of our political agency.

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Union leader Mick Lynch got it right when he said independence should be up to the will of the Scottish people, and his union “go where democracy takes us".

Now that is a decent, fair sentiment adhering to democratic principles; a statement indicating respect for the rights of the Scottish citizen.

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If the Scottish Labour party, or even Starmer’s Labour, wanted to demonstrate how seriously they really take Scotland, they might extend some effort to countering the tinpot proclamations the Tories are making about diminishing devolved powers and denying a referendum.

But the Labour party defence of Scottish democracy is missing in action, when they’re not actually parroting the same sort of sentiments as their Better Together chums. Absolutely useless.

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No wonder they want to quash the question on whether Scotland should be an independent nation. They don’t want to hear the answer because they suspect they won’t like it.

But whether they like it or not ultimately doesn’t matter. Scottish independence is a matter not for the flavour-of-the-month Tory but for Scottish citizens to decide.



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