IF it wasn’t for the fact that I have considerably less hair and a much larger stomach – and that popular music is rubbish – there are days when I wake up and wonder if Scotland has fallen through a hole in the fabric of spacetime and ended up back in the 1980s.

Thirty years ago this month, the first meeting of the Scottish Constitutional Convention was held, led by the late Canon Kenyon Wright. It was set up in order to tackle the refusal of Margaret Thatcher’s government to accede to the will of the Scottish people, as expressed through their elected representatives, for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament.

At that famous meeting, Wright declared: “What if that other voice we all know so well responds by saying, ‘We say no, and we are the state’? Well we say yes – and we are the people’.”

The convention crafted a document which came to be known as a Claim of Right For Scotland, or the Scottish Claim of Right. The Claim stated the “sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs”.

READ MORE: 40 years on: Never forget how Scotland was cheated out of devolution

The document was signed and endorsed by a large majority of Scottish MPs, including Gordon Brown. It was not endorsed by the SNP at the time, as the convention had, at the behest of its Labour and LibDem representatives, refused to allow independence to be discussed as an option.

In 2012, the document was presented to the Scottish Parliament by the SNP Government. This time it was endorsed and supported by the SNP which, over objections from Labour and LibDem members, noted that its reasons for not backing the Claim in 1989 were well documented. Nicola Sturgeon, who was then Deputy First Minister, called on all the parties in Holyrood to recommit to the principles of the Claim of Right.

On 4 July, 2018, the UK Parliament also officially endorsed the Claim of Right. Presented to the House of Commons as an opposition motion by the SNP, it was accepted and endorsed without a vote. With that decision, both of Scotland’s parliaments officially accepted and endorsed the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. There was no additional rider specifying “subject to a veto by the British prime minister”.

The purpose of the Claim of Right was to assert the traditional sovereignty of the people of Scotland. It sought to make Scottish popular sovereignty a political reality in the face of the opposition of a Conservative government to the will of the people of Scotland, as expressed through their elected representatives. That’s the position Scotland was in

in 1989, and that’s the position Scotland is in 30 years later. In fact, we are in a worse situation. At the weekend, Labour’s leader in Scotland, Richard Leonard, opined that a future Labour government wouldn’t consent to an independence referendum either. He is either unaware of his own party’s endorsement of the Scottish Claim of Right, or he’s ignorant of it. In either event, he’s consigning the Labour Party in Scotland to irrelevance.

READ MORE: Richard Leonard: Labour would 'not agree' to independence referendum

Conservative sources made it known last week that within a few weeks, they expect Nicola Sturgeon to press Theresa May for her assent to a Section 30 order to allow an independence referendum to go ahead, in accordance with the mandate that the Scottish electorate have given to the current Scottish Government.

The Conservatives have made it clear that Theresa May will refuse. We have a British Prime Minister who has abrogated to herself the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. That’s precisely why the Claim of Right was necessary in the first place.

The difference between 2019 and 1989 is that Scotland has had decades of experience in resisting the overweening power of a Westminster that ignores the will of the people of Scotland. We have a Scottish Parliament, we have democratic avenues open to us which were not available 30 years ago. Equally importantly, we have a mass grassroots independence movement which can count on hundreds of thousands of activists.

Theresa May can say no if she likes, but she doesn’t get to have the final say on the right of the Scottish people to choose their form of government. The Scottish Government can test the legality of a consultative referendum in the courts. Any future election in this country can be transformed into an effective referendum on independence. One way or another, the people of Scotland can have a democratic and legal say on their future and Theresa May can’t stop them. If she wants to maintain the fiction that Scotland really is a partner in a family of nations, it’s very much in her interests to cooperate with a referendum. If she doesn’t, she merely gives the independence campaign the greatest argument for independence of all – that a Scotland which needs the permission of a Conservative Prime Minister in order to ask itself about its future isn’t a partner in a union at all. It’s a subject nation.

During the independence referendum, Canon Wright came out as a supporter of independence. Scotland has outgrown devolution, he wrote in an article in the Scotsman. In that piece he remarked that: “Devolution is power by gift; or, perhaps, it is really power on loan, for gifts can’t be taken back. Power devolved is power retained.”

He warned that in the event of a No vote, the UK was likely to drag Scotland out of the EU against its will. The Canon passed away in 2017, living long enough to witness his fears come true. Worse, because Westminster has indeed decided to take back part of its loan. He knew that as long as Scotland remains a part of this so-called Union that this country will continue to be subjected to policies and decisions made in London by politicians who are neither interested in the views of the people of Scotland nor disposed to take account of them. Politicians who do not have the interests of the people of Scotland at heart.

On July 4, 2018, the House of Commons officially endorsed the Claim of Right yet – as with so many decisions taken by the Commons – Theresa May feels free to ignore it. So here Scotland is again, caught in the British time warp. We are still being told by Westminster politicians that Scotland is prostrate and powerless before a prime minister who was not chosen by the people of Scotland and who acts like an absolute monarch.

Thirty years on from the Claim of Right and Theresa May will say no to a mandate for an independence referendum given to the Scottish Parliament by the people of Scotland. Well we say yes – and we are the people.