It’s hard to believe that it’s now nearly 20 years since Scotland voted for the restoration of our national parliament.
And it’s equally hard to imagine life in Scotland without a parliament of our own – I say that as a politician of course, but I am sure it holds true for the vast bulk of people across the country.
Holyrood has its flaws, just as the parliaments of all countries do – but I am pretty certain that there are very few people in Scotland who would want to return to the days when Scotland didn’t have its own parliament.
That’s because having our own legislature and passing our own laws has, I believe, made our country a better place to live.
Indeed, it’s worth remembering that the vote in 1997 to establish Holyrood wasn’t about having a parliament for its own sake.
It was, very specifically, about addressing what was called the democratic deficit – the fact that no matter how Scotland voted it still faced having policies imposed on it by a Westminster government with little or no mandate north of the border.
Having our own parliament was meant to resolve that issue once and for all.
But while it has undoubtedly made things better, it hasn’t taken away that democratic deficit. And Brexit is all the proof we need of that hard fact.
Almost every single one of Scotland’s democratically elected representatives – in Holyrood, Westminster and in the European Parliament – campaigned for us to remain in Europe.
The country then voted by a clear 24-point margin to stay in the EU.
Every single one of the nation’s 32 local authority areas opted to remain.
And only one of Scotland’s 59 MPs at Westminster backs Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50.
Yet Scotland now faces the prospect of being dragged out of Europe against our will by a right-wing Tory government hell-bent on a hard Brexit, with catastrophic consequences for jobs, livelihoods and living standards.
That is nothing short of a democratic outrage – having our own parliament was meant to ensure such a thing could never happen again.
And the question is, if Scotland’s voice can be ignored on an issue as important as EU membership, what else will the Tories be prepared to impose on us? Are we prepared to have our future shaped by governments we don’t vote for – or is it better to decide our future for ourselves?
The stakes today are far higher than at any time since the creation of the Scottish Parliament.
Not only do the Tories threaten us with the leap in the dark of a hard Brexit – there is also a real danger that they will use Brexit as cover for a power grab to strip Holyrood of existing responsibilities.
The Tories have made it clear that – contrary to the promises of the EU leave campaign and to the founding principles of devolution – they see powers repatriated from Brussels, even over devolved responsibilities like farming and fishing, going to Westminster rather than Holyrood.
That’s simply not on. I’ll be saying more on this in a speech at the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh tomorrow evening. But if that is the prospect facing Scotland – an economically ruinous hard Brexit and a betrayal of the very foundations of our devolved government – then it raises fundamental questions about the kind of country we want to be and about where democratic power should lie.