THIS is going to be the year that Scottish independence becomes a certainty. All the signs are already there. Almost half the population supports independence, a figure which has remained consistent despite a constant barrage of negativity from an overwhelmingly British nationalist media and despite a lack of a definite timetable for a referendum. There is a solid and unmoveable bedrock to the independence movement, a bedrock which will provide a solid foundation upon which to build a campaign that will lead Scotland out of the wilderness. The work is being done and this year the fruits will start to ripen. We’re getting fit, we’re getting focused. We’re planning and strategising.

The grassroots independence movement is getting itself organised, local groups are being re-established, regional alliances being formed, and the grassroots movement is organising itself on a national level. Following from the first successful local groups’ regional conference in Dunblane in December, a second is being held in Inverness at the Spectrum Centre on February 24. Glasgow groups are holding a meeting of their own on February 10 which is being organised by Yes Rutherglen and Cambuslang. Other meetings and conferences are going to be held throughout the year, bringing local groups together in face-to-face meetings, developing our cohesion and coming up with strategies for more effective campaigning. This is also going to be the year during which the independence movement makes itself visible and public as a way to counteract a traditional media which for the most part would prefer we remained invisible.

The Scottish Independence Convention is continuing to work and to plan, researching the arguments and strategies that will bring independence about. They’re investigating the answers to the questions that will inevitably be demanded, questions about currencies, pensions, and public services. But independence campaigners are also rehearsing arguments around which our opponents will find far less easy to throw the fog of doubt, arguments about democratic accountability, about the nature of sovereignty, about who gets to decide what sort of country Scotland becomes. The constitutional debate in Scotland about independence or dependence is above all a debate about Scotland’s soul. Is that a soul that inhabits Scotland, that animates and informs us, or is it to be sucked out of us by a parliament in which our representatives are a permanent minority, marginalised and ignored, while all the big decisions which affect us are to be made by people who know little about us and who care even less.

On the other side of the great constitutional divide, the forces of British nationalism have never been weaker or less coherent. The positive case for the Union remains as imaginary as a good Brexit. All that is left is fear, scare stories, dissembling and threats. A British establishment which was serenely confident that it was going to win an independence referendum handsomely would not be hysterically screeching that there’s not going to be one. They focus all their fire and ire on the SNP, blinded by their tribal hatred to the fact that the independence movement is far bigger, far stronger, and far more powerful than any single political party. They can’t defeat a non-party and cross-party movement by trying to score petty party political points, but that’s all they know.

The British state continues to plunge headlong off the Brexit cliffs screaming that it’s the will of the people, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Brexit bus has been hijacked by a right-wing cabal who are bent on using it to privatise what’s left of public services, and to destroy employment rights and the welfare state. The message on the side of this bus is one of xenophobia, intolerance and nostalgia for a Britain that only ever existed in the imaginations of Empire loyalists. This year the reality of Brexit will become clear even to those who don’t want to think about or confront the issues – like Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party.

The non-party anti-independence campaign has been exposed as a bunch of hapless astroturfers, hobnobbing with aristocrats and seeking money from the super-wealthy. It’s been revealed as an attempt to maintain the status quo by those who’ve done extremely well out of the status quo. It’s a campaign which is riven with in-fighting, split and divided on tactics, out of touch and elitist. They represent no-one but those who already have it all.

The opponents of independence don’t oppose Scottish self-determination because they want to build a Scotland that’s better for all of us, but because they seek to preserve the privilege and property of the prosperous. There’s only one grassroots movement in this debate, and that’s the independence movement. There’s only one movement that has a moral purpose at its heart, only one movement that wants to change Scotland for the benefit of all who live here, and that’s the independence movement.

Opponents of independence scream about abuse on social media while ignoring their own abusive behaviours. They name-call and insult, calling independence supporters fascists and narrow-minded nationalists, but the real fascists, the real blood-and-soil nationalists, the sectarian bigots, the out-and-out racists, the islamophobes and xenophobes, they’re overwhelmingly on the red white and blue side of the debate.

It’s clear now that the Scottish constitutional debate isn’t a debate between nationalists who want independence and non-nationalists who support the Union. It’s a debate between two visions of what this nation can be. It’s a debate between a Scottish nationalism that’s interconnected, civic, outward looking and internationalist, and a British nationalism that’s increasingly nostalgic and backward looking, animated by a misplaced belief in British superiority. Opposing independence is about the past, supporting it is about the future.

This year will be the year that Scotland takes on board the realisation that remaining a part of a dysfunctional British state means surrendering our future to a past that’s imagined by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. It will be the year when Scotland recognises that the only way in which our country can become a better place, the only way in which we can preserve the good aspects of the British state, our NHS, our public services, free education, tolerance, employment and civil rights, will be by regaining our independence.