Our democracy is in crisis, or, at the very least, going through a "difficult patch". Since 2019, we’ve had four Prime Ministers and five Chancellors of the Exchequer, not to mention an ever-revolving door at Whitehall as the deckchairs were shuffled on the Titanic during the dying days of the Johnson and Truss governments.

Small numbers of largely-privileged people have dictated the leadership of an already highly centralised Government. Downing Street has looked more like a short-term rental property than a residence. With the next General Election reportedly not until late 2024, there is a way to go before the people have their voices heard.

The UK Government has given up on any pretence of due process and reason. Its treatment of asylum seekers and disregard for international human rights obligations; interference with the BBC; and the introduction of new election rules designed to reduce democratic participation hammer this home.

Until recently, Scotland has been a steadier ship.

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The sudden resignation of the previous First Minister, followed by the SNP’s leadership election, and of course the events surrounding the Party which have followed, hardly bears comparison with the democratic debacle at Westminster over the past three years.

However, it has punctured the view of many that all is well with Scotland’s democracy. This is not to prejudge the outcome of any process currently under way. Suffice to say that it has been a difficult first few weeks for the new First Minister. Internal difficulties aside, his party is squaring up to the real possibility that independence, despite continuing to enjoy close to equal support among the Scottish electorate as the status quo, has no practical short-term route to being delivered.

Both the Brexit vote and the independence referendum continue to represent major fault lines in our politics. As well as revealing deep disagreements over sovereignty, both votes came about in part because of people’s dissatisfaction with our democracy and a feeling of political and economic disempowerment. Whether through falling wages, rising fuel costs or taxes on the lower-paid rather than the wealthy, people’s sense of disenfranchisement continues to grow.

In addition, we have seen the erosion of the everyday democracy which offered people the chance to collectively determine at least some aspects of their lives. Community councils and tenants’ organisations, with some notable exceptions are weaker or non-existent. Community organisations across this country do amazing work but every year presents new challenges, not least through cuts to funding.

Now at least though, unions and our wider labour movement are bucking that trend.

Workers across the length and breadth of the UK are taking action to fight injustice. On pay, terms, conditions or cuts to services, it has been those within unionised workplaces seeking to bring about change. To the surprise of the Tories, their demonisation of trade unions has fallen on deaf ears. The public remains largely steadfast in their support for striking workers. This is, at least in part, due to our union democracy being open and transparent. We are subject to some ridiculously arcane and restrictive laws such as the need to hold postal ballots rather than online voting, or non-returns being effectively counted as "no" votes in ballots. Despite this, nearly every ballot for industrial action has been overwhelming.

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In response, the UK Government has hit the panic button. Its Minimum Service Bill aimed at making it even harder for public sector workers to take strike action and flouting international democratic norms is a last-ditch attempt to turn the tide in their favour.

It won’t work. Workers have had enough. Enough of the duplicity and the clear double standards: one for those who make the rules and another for those playing by them.

Those same workers are coming to our Congress next week in Dundee – the biggest gathering of trade unionists across Scotland since the beginning of this cost of living crisis. They will debate how we want to build a National Care Service, the industrial policies we need for a Just Transition to net zero, increasing taxation on wealth and much more besides.

With the First Minister, Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner and Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar all set to address our Congress, they’ll hear first-hand how we expect them to meet these challenges.

But we also want to hear not just how they intend to defend and uphold the place of our trade union movement but how we can revitalise our wider democracy.

Voter apathy is not the voters’ fault. Trade unions have shown over the past period that when you consult people on what they want to do, and when you actually do what it is they have voted for, participation is strong. A little dose of that could go a long way in parliamentary politics over the coming period.

Roz Foyer is General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC)