The National:

WHEN you mention Scottish independence, the Tories north and south of the Border are quick off the mark to their usual soundbites of "now is not the time" and "get on with the day job".

These soundbites are not only tired and overused, but they are also fundamentally flawed when you place them into reality. Coronavirus has disrupted every aspect of our society. It has pushed families to the brink, put unimaginable strain on our NHS and social care workers, shuttered businesses and so much more. The impact on our country cannot be underestimated, particularly when the ramifications of Brexit are mixed in.

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Scotland is at a critical juncture in our course of the pandemic which raises some important questions; how do we recover? How do we build a country that is better for everyone? The answers to these questions may not be straight forward, however, one thing is for certain- the answers do not include Westminster.

Westminster failures

At the age of 23, I ask myself what has Westminster delivered for me? It has limited my opportunities by taking us out of the EU, it has invested billions in nuclear weapons which are based less than 100 miles away from me, it has hiked National Insurance to fund failing social care in England and so much more. Westminster has been the birthplace for failure after failure. It’s an institution that I can’t trust to deliver for me or to improve our country.

The National:

However, in the shadow cast by Westminster, there is a light - Holyrood. The Scottish Government has abolished tuition fees, dental care charges, prescription fees, introduced a young person's guarantee, and the list goes on. This progress is set to continue with the SNP conference's overarching message of "hope". Hope for a country that is bold in its policymaking. Hope for a country that will have equality, dignity, and fairness at its heart. The conference is filled with ambitious and progressive policies that have the potential to transform Scotland; policies that will make a significant impact on our recovery from the pandemic. However, no matter how ambitious we are, our progress in recovery comes with a major caveat, Westminster.

In contrast to these bold and progressive policies, the Tories are continuing their trend of failing to deliver for the people of Scotland. Take scrapping the £20 uplift for Universal Credit for example. This unforgivable cut is going to hurt our most vulnerable. It will remove a vital lifeline for families and plunge many into poverty. The devolved governments have implored Westminster to reverse this cut, but to no avail.

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The same can be said for the manifesto-breaking National Insurance rise that the Tories are pushing forward within Westminster. This tax hike will affect our youngest and lowest-paid workers, all in the name of English social care. Scotland should not have to suffer from regressive tax rises taken unilaterally by Westminster. These decisions have extreme consequences for Scotland; they impact our most vulnerable while undermining our own parliament. This poses a significant question that the Tories prefer to ignore; how can the Scottish Government set out long-term plans for recovery when Westminster is continually changing the rules and pulling the rug from under its feet?

Independence is a necessity

For a full recovery that will truly transform Scotland, we need the powers of independence. We need to be able to make decisions in areas where we currently cannot. We need to be able to get on with governing without having to continually look over our shoulder to see what Westminster is doing. Independence is not a vanity project.

To return to the Tory soundbites, it’s a necessity to give our government the power it needs to get on with the day job of recovering from this pandemic. We need independence as soon as the pandemic allows us to equip our parliament with full control to build a Scotland with equality and fairness at its heart. It's extremely difficult to get on with the day job of recovering from this pandemic with Westminster controlling so many levers. The time for recovery is now.

Corey Lees is the convener of Young Scots for Independence's South of Scotland regional association.