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St. Andrew’s Day Declaration – Neale Hanvey

I left Scotland in 1993 to work in London because there were no permanent NHS jobs or education opportunities at home. London provided employment and academic opportunities aplenty, which I readily took advantage of ultimately achieving academic success and leading Rare Cancer Nursing at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Back then, I was young and enthusiastic, but ambivalent about Scottish independence; I just accepted the way things were and voted Labour.

When I returned to a more confident Scotland in 2009, the gains of devolution changed everything. I could see all that was possible with a polity that reflected the people and communities around me, something I had never experienced as a younger man in the gruelling days of Thatcherism.

It’s no surprise I champion the potential of all of Scotland’s people wherever they arrived from. As someone born in Ireland, it’s the personal investment in this great country that matters most to me. When I was elected in 2019, it was never my priority to build another career in London dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of Tory policy Scotland has never voted for in my lifetime.

So, on St. Andrew’s Day, I was proud to lead a Westminster Hall debate on “[UK] Government policy on a further independence referendum for Scotland”. During the debate I set out the implications and criticisms from esteemed legal academics regarding the UK Supreme Court’s overreach and inaccurate assessment of international law on self-determination of peoples, countries and territories.

The fall of the USSR steered International law on self-determination far beyond the out-dated position cited by the UK’s Supreme Court.

During the debate I placed on record the St Andrew’s declaration published in my name as Early Day Motion 633 which asserts,

“That this House welcomes and endorses the St Andrew’s Day Declaration of 30 November 2022 which states that we the people, elected members and civic organisations of Scotland assert that our nation has the right of self-determination to freely determine our political status and to freely pursue our economic, social and cultural development, mindful of the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the people, we will democratically challenge any authority or government which seeks to deny us that right.”

Democracy is a continuous process, not a single event. If Ireland can consider its constitutional arrangement every seven years, why not Scotland?

It is a question of democracy, and Scotland’s future must rest in Scotland’s hands.

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