Scotland's democratic deficit 'starker than ever', says Nicola Sturgeon

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The democratic deficit facing Scotland is now “starker than ever”, Nicola Sturgeon will warn today, as she unveils the latest in a series of papers setting out the updated case for independence.

The First Minister will launch the document at a press conference at Bute House, her official residence in Edinburgh.

Titled ‘‘Renewing Democracy through Independence’, it will set out “the key democratic considerations”, including the Scottish Government’s argument that people who live in Scotland have the right to choose how they should be governed.

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It comes just days after it emerged the UK Government will urge the Supreme Court to throw out Ms Sturgeon's request for a ruling on the legality of her plans for a second referendum.

Picture: Russell Cheyne/PA WirePicture: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire
Picture: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire

The First Minister recently asked the court to determine whether a vote can be held without Westminster's consent. But the UK Government argues this would be "premature" as the relevant legislation has not passed through the Scottish Parliament.

It believes a bill legislating for an independence referendum is outwith Holyrood's legislative competence.

Speaking in Bute House, Ms Sturgeon is expected to say: “This discussion could not be more timely or urgent – the democratic deficit Scotland faces is not a recent phenomenon, but the evidence of it now is starker than ever.

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“A Prime Minister with no democratic endorsement from Scotland is about to be replaced by yet another Prime Minister that Scotland hasn’t voted for – and wouldn’t vote for even if we were given the chance.

“All Scotland ever hears from UK politicians these days is democracy denial. They trade opinions on how many years it should be before Westminster might ‘allow’ us to make a democratic choice about our own future.

“The fact that the Scottish people have repeatedly elected a majority in the Scottish Parliament committed to an independence referendum is treated as immaterial. You don’t have to be a supporter of independence to know that’s not democracy.”

Ms Sturgeon will accuse Labour of “teaming up with the Tories to frustrate the will of the Scottish people”.

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And she will argue Scotland “doesn’t need a pale imitation of, or temporary respite from, Tory government” but rather “it needs the real and permanent alternative that only independence offers”.

However, the Conservatives accused the First Minister of “stubbornly ignoring the real priorities of people across Scotland and instead talking about her usual obsession” of independence.

Donald Cameron, the party’s constitution spokesman at Holyrood, said: “In the week that Scotland’s NHS recorded the worst A&E waiting times on record, people will be outraged to see Nicola Sturgeon continuing to campaign for an independence referendum next year.

“This SNP Government are once again focused on the wrong priority at the worst possible time.”

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He insisted: “The vast majority of Scots don’t want a divisive second referendum next year, yet it seems that the SNP are only too happy to ignore democracy when it doesn’t go their way.”

Scottish Labour’s constitution spokesperson Sarah Boyack also hit out, saying: “When people across Scotland are crying out for help with the cost-of-living crisis, precious government time and energy is being poured into the SNP’s endless attempts to whip up division.”

Ms Boyack added: “The last paper was nothing but fantasy economics and baseless promises of jam tomorrow, without a shred of clarity on the unanswered questions plaguing the SNP’s reckless plans or any attempt to use the powers they have now.”

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