THE SNP’s decision to avoid conference resolutions on a second independence referendum has divided opinion on social media.

Some fully support the leadership’s safety-first approach, but many activists are angry at their apparent hesitancy to turn parliamentary dominance into a decisive manoeuvre. It revisits the long-lasting division in Scottish nationalism between “gradualists” and “fundamentalists”.

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has always been a leading critic of gradualism. Last week he argued it could become a “strategic blunder” if a second referendum is missing from the SNP’s 2016 manifesto. If Sillars is correct – and I believe he is – we must look very critically at the source of this mistake.

First, we need to assess the case for a second referendum from a clear starting point. Many in the movement are caught up with tactical questions: waiting for the optimum time and situation to emerge. But for me, the most effective leadership starts with explaining our principles, and that begins by asking: “Why did we want independence in the first place?”

The Radical Independence Campaign always said independence was a means to building a new, more equal society, freed from the imperial, financial and bureaucratic straitjacket of Westminster rule.

If there was another road, a better way of achieving that goal, we would happily change tactics; but nothing since the referendum has swayed me. Independence is still the best way to transform Scotland into a new society that represents the millions, not the millionaires.

The endless post-2014 wranglings over a constitutional middle ground, from the Smith Commission onward, are simply distractions from the substantive issues of austerity and power. The Scotland Bill, for instance, is a Tory sham to create an artificial debate about the income-tax rate, so that Ruth Davidson might actually have something to say in Scottish elections. But what’s the point in controlling income tax if you don’t have powers to improve and increase incomes? These suggestions are not serious remedies for power inequalities in Britain. They are electoral gamesmanship designed to distract from the deeper issues.

This Tory government – arguably the most extreme in British history – is going to be even more radical than Thatcherism, destroying the remaining positive scraps of “British” heritage, from our welfare state to the trade unions, to a publicly-owned National Health Service.

Considering Scotland elected only one Tory MP – and only three pro-austerity MPs – this Government has absolutely no mandate north of the Border.

And we continue to live with that injustice every day.

Today, another woman suffering domestic abuse will suffer at the hands of her partner because she’s got no refuge to go to. Tonight, another child will go to bed hungry because mum has to work for a minimum wage that barely covers the bills. In a few months, when winter sets in, another pensioner struggling with extortionate energy bills will freeze to death.

Forget the European Union, the Vow, and the particular tactics of Westminster votes: it’s the billions of unnecessary cuts which will destroy ordinary people’s lives that give sufficient moral and political justification for a second referendum.

Gradualists have been fixated on the importance of the EU referendum. They believe it will highlight the differences between the divisive narrowness of Westminster and the civilised, cosmopolitan politics of Holyrood. But even in tactical terms, this thinking gets muddier every day.

In the context of Germany’s treatment of Syriza, the moral superiority of “Europe” is being openly questioned by activists. With Corbyn potentially moving in a leftist anti-EU direction, the political meaning of “Europe” is shifting, and not in the SNP leadership’s favour. For many of us, the true nature of the European Union revealed in the Troika’s destruction of Syriza is not only incompatible with our vision for an independent Scotland, it is becoming indefensible.

Pitching our movement as the pro-EU remedy to Ukip Westminster might deprive us of our real purpose in combating austerity. Playing tactics with this question could leave us on the wrong side of the moral divide on global austerity. And that’s bad news, “tactically speaking”.

The real barrier to a second referendum is our own politics of fear, the trembling that comes with opening up a winning movement to a potential loss. But just look at how weak the opposition is right now; and compare that to our side’s growing strength.

Just as most people in Scotland stopped listening to the Tories with Thatcher in charge, our generation has stopped listening to Labour in Scotland, as they continue to forget the people their party was supposed to represent.

So I’m with Jim Sillars: it is time for a little impatience. As he said last week, our movement is now strong enough to win. The longer we leave it, the more it might ebb away. Some might insist it’s for the Scottish people to decide when we have a referendum, but that confuses matters rather than clarifying anything.

Parties stand in elections with manifestos to represent the Scottish people; a second referendum is either in those manifestos or it isn’t. If nobody offers it, there is no choice.

Right now the debate is travelling in only one direction: our direction. None of the 45 per cent who voted Yes are going back, and by facing up to our movement’s mistakes last time round we can start convincing the rest. Just as the lack of a currency “Plan B” weakened Syriza against the Troika, Yes Scotland was weakened by currency questions. If Scotland is going to be independent, we need to be financially and economically independent too. For me, that means arguing a clear position for an independent Scottish currency.

Think about our movement’s growth; think about all we’ve learned and all the new activists that have been created. Then take a look at the crisis of the Westminster centre-ground. The future is ours to win.