AS we look forward to a second Scottish independence campaign, we have much we can learn from 2014. I sincerely hope that we will, collectively, learn lessons from the way we were treated by the Better Together campaign and also how the Yes campaign was conducted.

First of all we know the kind of arguments Better Together used and how much of that proved to be untrue. So, we should be better prepared to rebuff it next time. We also know that, like it or not, the SNP and its leadership is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many people disliked Alex Salmond and, to a lesser extent, Nicola Sturgeon. Critical though politicians of their stature are, the independence movement must transcend individuals and even party politics. It needs to be seen as a broad church where individuals can feel comfortable. In the last referendum the campaign, to my mind, was dominated by the SNP and by Salmond. More needs to be done to use the voices and talents of others such as Patrick Harvie, Lesley Riddoch and Elaine C Smith, to name but a few.

People, I am afraid, can be very short-sighted and there are a lot of folk who equate Scottish independence with an eternal SNP government. In reality it is unimaginable that the LibDems and Labour would at least not free themselves of their London shackles and establish properly independent parties in Scotland. The Greens would probably see an increase in support and a number of SNP voters would favour the Scottish Socialist Party. Goodness knows what the Tories would do.

So, supporting the SNP at the moment should be seen by some people as a means to an end and we can have the discussions and debates about future governments later. What is important is that like-minded people put aside other differences to work together. The Unionists will seize on every opportunity to break that resolve and we must not give them any ammunition.

We have already seen some of this behaviour with the publication of the Growth Commission Report. This should be seen as a discussion document which answers some of the issues which caused problems in 2014. It should be forming the basis of conversations and not divisions.

The SNP have a responsibility for setting out what their answers to some of the key questions will be. We know most of these from the last time. Clarity on what they think should happen around pensions, currency, etc, is important. My opinion on the currency issue, for what it is worth, is that we should say we are having a Scottish pound, linked to sterling in the initial years of independence. Salmond was right in 2014 in his assertions about using the pound, confirmed after the event by the Governor of the Bank of England, but people were worried.

If we could get clarity from the EU on our future position, that would be helpful. Lets not get sidetracked about other issues such as a republic versus a monarchy just now, these can be debated and resolved later. Our combined focus over the next period of time should be gaining independence by persuading the majority of people that that is our best option. Everything else can be sorted out in time. To do that we need resolve and clarity of purpose and we need to treat those with opposing views with respect because abusing them and calling them names will not persuade them to change their minds and will not encourage others to join us.

With the unfolding calamity which is Brexit and the austere and inhuman Tory government in Westminster there really cannot be a better time for Scotland to move forward. We cannot afford to miss a second opportunity to become an independent nation.
John Wilson