ROBIN McAlpine’s article (If you are agonising over when the next independence referendum should be held, you are asking the wrong question, January 27) and the follow-ups are very welcome. Reaching out and appealing to potential new pro-indy voters is obviously fundamental to getting us (well) over the 50% mark. Equally vital are the practicalities of keeping the 45%. After all, we should take nothing for granted!

The questions of how and when to “engage” are paramount, but so too is what we say. Just what are the pro-indy messages? The actual indyref2 date should identify the tangible timetable for end-game campaigning, and not be the starting gun. So, let’s be honest, if we are not consistently 50% and more in the polls at this stage, what needs to change?

READ MORE: Robin McAlpine: This is the question we should be asking ourselves about indyref2

McAlpine mentioned a “position of strength”. Grassroots indy never stopped, never went away and that is a major component of our strength we need to exploit and progress. I do believe, though, that “presence” alone is not sufficient. I’ll continue to march, be on stalls, deliver leaflets, whatever, but much more is needed. We have to be positively talking up Scotland not just from the heart, but from an “informed” base. And I think we can learn from PM May and what she and her government haven’t done over the last two years or so.

At no stage have I seen her, her government, or even a “front” organisation engage along the lines of any benefits post-Brexit. They’ve been too busy infighting and pushing Project Fear, so much so that they haven’t even been able to do the day job of governing. Just imagine if there had been a positive message about post-Brexit: say socio-economic change in deprived, stagnating communities? Not aspirational, but examples: opening up debates at local meetings, discussion groups, plans with pros and cons. OK, the message on the bus was a bad move, but they could have learnt from that, moving on with ideas for real change whilst seeking views, comments, and alternatives, but always with a belief in the positive that they were promoting.

READ MORE: We need a 10-year plan to convince soft ‘No’s to switch to Yes

I doubt if any such campaign and messaging would have worked here even if they had tried. We’re too savvy in Scotland to trust a Tory. But that lack of vision and beneficial change has helped cement Brexit paralysis within all the Unionist parties, and led to entrenchment in the voters. Neither camp is willing to listen, far less change, apart from those few self-interested MPs seeking to ensure party unity.

We need to be showing, saying, telling, how an indy Scotland will be different, and not merely offering a wish list of change; no-one, not even rUK, “wants” austerity; we all abhor food banks, but how do we grow the economy, how do we move away from in-work poverty? If that’s a plus coming from independence, spell it out.

READ MORE: We must present the case for independence directly to the voters

If we’re hoping to engage with new, first-time younger voters come indyref 2, what’s indy Scotland going to do for them? Shoving a registration form into someone’s hand isn’t sufficient in itself. Neither is a mantra of “vote, make a difference, ensure your voice is heard”.’

In light of our democratic voices being dismissed over the last voting occasions, where are those constructive alternatives, the reasons to vote and vote for indy? Lesley Riddoch’s most recent contributions via her excellent films are superb examples of reaching out and engaging. Yes, expensive to produce, but with a long pertinent shelf life. Since we can’t command newsprint, TV, media the way that pro-Union can, how can we use what passes for “alternatives”? White Papers and reports can make good reference points, but they’re not necessarily persuasive in their own right, nor do they make “light” reading. Perhaps the time has come for “papers” or “pamphlets” addressing separate issues such as the economy and migration. Or being able to respond to a current topic, ie “Should we be rethinking cross-channel ferries from Scotland to mainland Europe: pros and cons”.

It’s not just the political vision we need, bringing with it as it will do its party-political baggage. It’s not a future Scotland for and by politicians. It’s being able to show what Scotland could look like in the future, one the people can help shape with their pro-indy vote. Perhaps the Scottish Independence Convention, CommonWeal or others in the indy movement will produce “articles” that will stimulate discussion, fire up public meetings, provide the foot sore volunteers with more “leaflets”.

We don’t need a fixed campaign timetable to do so, but we do need to be able to demonstrate the positives of why it is worth continuing to work towards independence.

Selma Rahman