IN the five years since the independence referendum, there has been plenty of post-match analysis. Much has centred on the promises or assertions that were made, and how they have stood the test of time.

But what’s important to remember, as we look back and gear up to do it all over again, is how much the narrative has shifted in five short years. The Yes side should not fear a shift of focus, because it works to our advantage. To see this, we need only look back to the 2014 and the arguments being put forward by the Better Together campaign.

The over-arching ambition of Better Together was to convince the electorate that a vote for No was a vote for continuity and security.

In this ambition they were largely successful. Although at the time they perhaps didn’t realise the inherent danger in promising everything would stay the same: only for everything to change.

In promising the status quo they also managed to avoid scrutiny about the elements of the Union that were demonstrably undemocratic and against Scotland’s interests.

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As the polls tightened in the run-up to the vote, it looked as though people in Scotland were being convinced by the delicious allure of a fresh start. But we learned then and we know now that this isn’t appealing to all voters.

Better Together’s vision for Scotland – or lack thereof – was crucial in persuading voters that it’s better the devil you know. They won the referendum, but they did so having lost ground from the lead they enjoyed at the start of the campaign.

Their victory relied on tempering their losses and in that, they were successful. The prospect Better Together put forward relied on rose-tinted illustrations of the historical ties between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Everything good that the UK has achieved – the welfare state; the NHS; peace and security was attributed to the Union that binds the four nations of the UK together. Their proposition was to maintain all the benefits of the Union – while strengthening devolution – without the inherent risks they prophesied would come with independence. One of the most persuasive elements of their case – both in terms of how it resonated with soft No voters and the time that had to be dedicated by the Yes side in responding to it – was the pound: “If Scotland says goodbye to the UK, it says goodbye to the pound.’’

In lieu of a new, positive vision for Scotland, Unionists relied heavily on fear and scaremongering. Project Fear worked, in that it clogged up the airwaves and debates with claims about independence that the Yes side had to spend time responding to.

Whether it was the threat to pensions, security, the shipyards or our membership of the European Union, the prophesies of doom for an independent Scotland just kept on coming. This is the point in the tale where we are all chomping at the bit to say: “Ah, but!’’

Because we know this chapter of the story and we know how it ends. We need only look to the chaos and constitutional crisis engulfing the UK now: the way Scotland has been sidelined over Brexit and the real and present danger to our way of life – to feel the urge to fill in the blanks.

Others have made and will continue to make those arguments and I have no need to reiterate them here. We know that promises have been broken and that the continuity that was promised has not come to fruition. In looking back at the campaign Better Together ran in 2014, I want to consider our case for optimism. Not just in the vision for independence – which at this moment in our history looks more appealing than ever – but in a future Yes campaign and the story it can tell.

In 2014, we were on the back foot. We were reactive. The onus was on the side offering change to explain its reasons for wanting to tear up the rules as we knew them and do something different. While at times this may have felt unfair and unbalanced, I’d argue that the Yes movement of today is all the stronger for that bruising experience.

And next time round? There is no continuity candidate. There is the unknown and frightening prospect of a No-Deal UK, outside the EU and entangled in negotiations over trade deals and trade-offs of our NHS for many years to come.

Or there is independence, which looks the safer option now, as we have witnessed how Ireland has been safeguarded and respected during the Brexit process as a small, independent nation inside the EU.

And so, if we are organised and disciplined, the onus will not be solely on Yes to explain its position in the way it was in 2014. Voters deserve explanations from those who spout the virtues of the Union too. Not only do they deserve them, but they will demand them.

The Yes movement, in all its splintered, diverse and often ill-tempered glory, has real cause for optimism. I know those who have carried on campaigning and organising and debating these issues for the last five years must feel exhausted, as well as impatient.

But if we can hold on – and hold together – for a while longer, indyref2 is ours to lose. Better Together, on the other hand, will not be feeling battle weary in this moment. The political forces behind the 2014 campaign have now exited the stage, to be replaced with others when the time comes ...

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