Gary Paterson: All I’ve ever known is a Scottish Parliament


Twenty years on since Scotland voted for devolution, political activist Gary Paterson says younger generations are hungry for Scottish independence

FOR the vast majority of my life, there has been a Scottish Parliament.

I never take it for granted, but at the same time my generation knows it to be nothing other than a political reality – the space where Scotland’s national voice is articulated through popular will and progressive format.

And, of course, this understanding was the worst fear of those who campaigned against the parliament’s reconvening, noted by the then-campaign-leader Donald Findlay QC who once said: “The notion of a parliament creates in people the idea, well if we have a parliament, why don’t we just have a parliament that deals with everything and a parliament that deals with everything is the equivalent to seeking independence.”

READ MORE: The road to parliament: a timeline of Scottish devolution

It struck me that Findlay inadvertently provides effective summary to the case for Scottish independence, because despite its challenges there has been no issue delivered by Holyrood in these last decades which would have been better served at Westminster. 

And indeed, Holyrood’s outcomes have been spoken about across the world, recognising leadership on issues of energy and climate, combating inequality, and promoting both social and political inclusion; seen in key legislation on equal marriage, votes at 16, world-leading climate targets, homelessness and care, alongside policies such as free education, personal care and free prescriptions, to name but a few.

Concurrently, beyond the impact of the London bubble ethos where the people are not sovereign and where power is concentrated in a shambolic and undemocratic electoral system, there has been little positive delivered by Westminster that wouldn’t have been better served or taken further by Holyrood. 

Indeed, much of Westminster’s acts have been synonymous with forms of suffering and callousness that would never see the light of the Holyrood chambers or committee rooms, let alone be forced onto the Scottish people. It is for this reason that we must continue to fight to make Findlay’s prophesy a reality.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Independence is “the natural extension” of devolution

Beyond the parliament’s political outcomes, Holyrood’s role as the voice of Scotland is increasingly taking form internationally with a Scottish Government confidently taking the stage in forums such as the European Union and the United Nations, and engaging in agenda-shaping initiatives on economic, climate, tourism, and international development landscapes. 

This once again highlights the contrast between Scotland’s hopes against the UK’s increasingly inward-looking and regressive international agenda.

Moving forward there are opportunities, such as the SNP’s new transformational legislative agenda after 10 years of landmark achievements for Scotland, as well as risks, such as the UK’s ambitions to remove enshrined Scottish values such as our human rights, EU citizenship, and devolved powers. In both, we must be ready to fight to take the hopes for Holyrood forward.

There is no doubt that the Scottish Parliament is the political heart of our country. My generation has known it no other way; it should be where all, and not merely some, of Scotland’s hopes and desires are realised.

Picture courtesy of dun_deagh

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