An independent Scotland in the EU could thrive - Lorna Slater

The Believe in Scotland / Yes for EU protest on Saturday showed the strength of the movement for a fairer, greener and independent Scotland in Europe.
Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna SlaterMinister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater
Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater

As I spoke from a stage outside the Scottish Parliament I saw a sea of saltires, homemade banners, smiling faces and families.

The crowd was so vibrant and colourful, but also so big that I couldn’t see where it ended. There were thousands of us, from veterans of the movement to young people marching for the first time and Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The sun had shone on us as we gathered next to Edinburgh Castle to a backdrop of cheers and bagpipes, before marching down the Royal Mile and making our way to Holyrood. It was a reminder of how important the question of independence is to so many of us.

For me it's a question of democracy and of where decisions should be made. I believe they should be made here in Scotland by the people who live here. We should have the powers that other countries are able to take for granted.

As I told the crowd, one of my biggest frustrations as an MSP is the constant blocks and hurdles that come with devolution. We are always being told what we can't do because the necessary powers are not devolved.

Some of these are really basic things that every country should be able to do, like increasing wages, fixing the broken energy markets to lower bills or creating a compassionate and humane migration system to encourage people to make their lives here.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

So much has changed since 2014. We have seen - count them - five Tory Prime Ministers that Scotland did not vote for and they have delivered a disastrous Brexit deal that Scotland opposed which has cost a huge number of jobs and led to higher prices and curbs on our right to work and travel.

Devolution is crumbling too, with our powers being rolled back.

In the last few months Westminster has used different mechanisms to torpedo the bottle and can recycling scheme that I had brought to the point of rolling out and the gender reform bill that our Parliament supported.

This week our commitment to fighting the climate crisis and the Tory-driven cost of living disaster will be underlined in a Programme for Government, with two pro-independence parties at its heart.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I know so many who were opposed to independence at the time but support it now. They remember when they were told a No vote meant more powers and staying in the EU. They know the promises that were made to them have not been fulfilled.

Saturday's march and rally was a moment of hope and a call for change. But it also underlined everything that we are losing out on because of the powers we lack.

In 2014 we missed the opportunity to build a modern and welcoming democracy and a brighter future for ourselves and future generations. We can't let that opportunity go by again.

Lorna Slater is Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.