Just 1 in 500 Scots Has a Say on Next Prime Minister

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Tory Leadership Election Exposes Broken UK Democracy

Although many in Scotland will have felt a sense of relief that the chaos of Boris Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister is coming to an end, the fact remains that one Prime Minister Scotland did not vote for is about to be replaced by yet another.

The recent Scottish Government papers refreshing the case for independence provide a wealth of evidence on how democracy in Britain is broken, and the ongoing Tory leadership contest provides one clear example.

There are only 11,000 members of the Scottish Conservatives who will take part in the vote to choose their next party leader from the final two candidates. In a population of 5.5 million, that means only one in every 500 Scots has a say in who will govern the country.

This an outrage and should concern anyone who believes democracy is worth defending. No matter who becomes the next Prime Minister, it will be someone Scotland did not vote for, and they will impose policies we don’t support.

It is extremely concerning that the change of Tory leader seems certain to be accompanied by a shift even further to the right. And, of course, a shift to the right from the Tories means a shift even further away from the mainstream of Scottish opinion and values.

So far, we have seen the candidates for Prime Minister promise tax cuts for the rich, cuts to public spending and public services. They have also launched blatant attacks on devolution and the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

While families and households across the country are trying navigate a severe cost of living crisis, caused by rising inflation and stagnant wages, we have heard next to nothing from any of these potential Prime Ministers on what they will do to alleviate these pressures.

Every minute the Tories spend squabbling over who gets to 10 Downing Street comes at the cost of support and investment to help people across the country who are struggling now.

It’s not good enough for UK Government Ministers to promise an update in due course – energy bills are sky-high and rising now, and with every day that passes, people become more anxious about how to pay these bills and feed their kids.

Action is needed – and it must be both significant and immediate.

The fact is that this cost of living crisis, which is the worst in living memory, has been made worse by decisions of Boris Johnson’s government, not least Brexit and its many damaging consequences. But no changing of the Westminster guard will reverse those decisions, nor will it set the UK on a better track.

The problems Scotland faces as a result of Westminster control run far deeper than any one individual, and the latest Tory leadership pantomime has brought into focus the significant and increasing democratic deficit that Scotland suffers as part of the UK.

The issues that people here are focused on – tackling child poverty, supporting the recovery of our NHS, building a fairer economy, and making a just transition to net zero – will be hindered, not helped, by whoever becomes Prime Minister in the weeks ahead.

All of that underlines the necessity of Scotland moving from Westminster control to independence.

The next Tory leader can, on their personal whim, join their two predecessors in ‘now is not the time’ democracy denial and attempt to block Scotland’s democratic right to self-determination.

But the SNP was returned to power last year with a cast-iron mandate to hold a referendum, and denial of that reality makes an absolute mockery of the claim that the UK is a voluntary nation of equals.

The people of Scotland have the right to choose our own future as a wealthier, fairer, happier independent country – we have yet to hear the case for remaining shackled to corrosive Westminster control.