“WTF are the EIS playing at?”. As a trade unionist in the midst of a dispute, it’s a comment you’d expect from the Daily Mail, but in Scotland in 2019 it’s more often followed by an accusation of working for the Labour Party or the British State, and it’s coming from a vocal minority in the pro-independence movement.

In 2014, we were proud to have built a broad, progressive pro-independence movement, far greater than one political party.

In 2019, after more than a decade in government, the SNP have many progressive achievements to boast of, and the independence referendum has further bolstered their electoral success.

But a government without critics is a dangerous thing, and the implosion of the SSP in 2006 and Labour’s subsequent collapse in 2015 have left less a rainbow parliament and more an alarmingly one-sided one. This is not the fault of the SNP, but it’s not good for our democracy, our civic society or the SNP themselves.

On social media, the slightest criticism of the Scottish Government is now seized upon as support for Westminster rule, and this weakens the case for independence. It makes our movement appear fragile and frightened, like a studio set where the walls shake if the characters raise their voices. More importantly, it undermines our greatest strength in 2014, the ability to transcend party lines and to reimagine our society and our democracy – what kind of Scotland do we want to be?

“Work as if you’re in the early days of a better nation” was oft quoted during the campaign, and trade unions are central to this sentiment.

The historical link to the Labour Party is thrown around as an insult – in fact, it’s something we should be proud of. Keir Hardie, founder of the Labour Party, was a staunch supporter of Scottish Home Rule, and it’s hard to see that he’d have found much common ground with Jim Murphy in 2014. Trade unions – and the Labour Party – were established not to fight for the interests of a Westminster elite, but as a collective response to the appalling conditions and suffering of Victorian society. Look around at Brexit Britain, and the need has not gone away.

Today there are more than half a million trade union members in Scotland. Trade union membership is highest in the public sector, and more women workers – particularly older women – are members than men. This is an audience that the independence movement cannot afford to alienate if we are to win a second referendum.

Take the Glasgow equal pay strike in October 2018 as an example – thousands of low-paid women workers came out on strike after more than a decade of protracted negotiations and legal wrangling. The Twitter backlash was vicious. Not only were strikers attacked for taking long-overdue action, but a barely veiled misogyny assumed the women workers could not understand the issues and were being led by “proper” trade union leaders (read: old white men in suits) as a front for the Labour Party.

As further education lecturers take strike action and the EIS prepares for the first school teacher strike in nearly 40 years, the same themes are emerging. The 30,000-strong teachers’ demonstration in Glasgow in October 2018 was overwhelmingly young, female and highly educated, motivated not by “greed” or a particular hatred of the SNP, but by justice, equality and a desire for better public services and a better Scotland. We cannot wait for independence, and while you may not agree with our demands, supporters of a progressive, independent Scotland should support our right to strike.

The message that there is one small pie and that we must fight over the crumbs is a Tory message, and our comparisons should be with other independent OECD nations. As supporters of an independent Scotland, we must raise our sights and our aspirations – so join a trade union and work for that change!