AS we prepare for the next independence referendum, it’s vital that we lay the foundations of a campaign that will connect with every part of Scotland – geographically and demographically. The appeal of independence transcends party politics too, and that must be reflected in our campaign.

So we need tailored campaigns for different communities – whether this is a physical community or a community bound by a shared identity. It’s about how we communicate the arguments and benefits of independence to a diverse Scotland.

In areas like the south of Scotland, where I grew up and still campaign, we need to build a renewed case for independence that is tailored and relevant to the particular needs and challenges of these communities.

Across the south of Scotland, independence will bring some unique opportunities and challenges, as the regions that will border our nearest neighbour.

I believe, as we move towards another independence referendum, that we should be working on a package of proposals specifically for areas like this – focused on plans to invest in our infrastructure and potential job opportunities.

We also need to reach out to people who previously voted against independence, and that includes people who vote for the Tories, which is a pretty sizeable number of people in rural Scotland.

As a party, the SNP should never shy away from highlighting the failings of the Conservative Party, of which there are many. For those of us in the SNP, escaping the clutches of a right-wing Tory Government in London is a key driver for independence. But we need to stress that it is possible to be a Conservative voter, while rejecting the Unionist bit.

Independence is an inclusive concept that everyone in Scotland can get behind. It is a wonderfully simple statement of fact – that the best people to make decisions about Scotland are the people who live here.

There is nothing inherently incompatible with supporting both independence for Scotland and the Conservatives in Scotland. Just as there is nothing incompatible with feeling a sense of Britishness, while supporting independence for Scotland. Independence is simply about sovereignty and the transfer of decision making from Westminster to Scotland.

The decisions we take thereafter are for us to decide. They will not be pre-determined in a referendum campaign, or by any political party. We can all present our manifestos for an independent Scotland, but the people of Scotland will decide which one we want to implement.

So when we as a party, and a movement, are developing our strategies and campaigns for the next independence referendum, we need to consider how to engage with everyone in Scotland about our vision for the future. We shouldn’t write off the prospect of engaging people simply because they have voted Tory, and because it may be more challenging to persuade them that independence is for them too.

While there are Unionists who would like to see the next referendum become divisive – a “them versus us” campaign – those of us who believe in independence and progressive politics really do need to be the change we want to see, and find ways to engage every citizen of our country in a positive discussion about Scotland’s future.

Our independence campaign must be as diverse as our country. Conversely, the core message has to be as simple as possible, so that we can reach out to people whatever their party allegiance – and that message has to be that independence is about making decisions about Scotland here in Scotland.

Everything else is politics.