FIRST Minister, I well remember the SNP spring conference in March 2016 and your rousing address to a packed auditorium at the SECC in Glasgow.

I recall you referring to former First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt as one of your heroes and quoting her inspirational words: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” I can still hear you declare that “our dream is for Scotland to become independent. To be in the driving seat of our own destiny. To shape our own future”. You called it a “beautiful dream”. So it was. And so it remains.

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Three-and-a-half years later we are no closer to realising that dream of restoring Scotland’s rightful status. A dream which, while still beautiful, has become tinged with a more poignant aspect of urgent longing and desperate trepidation. Now, more than ever, we need to be mindful of those other words of wisdom you borrowed from Eleanor Roosevelt: “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”

First Minister, may I respectfully observe that many of the people, across Scotland and beyond, who were inspired by your “beautiful dream” speech have grown weary of wishing and now urgently long to see a plan for making that dream a reality. Some have even begun to fear that the dream may never be more than that. We need new hope. And we look to you to give us that hope.

As I take Eleanor Roosevelt to have meant when she pointed out that “it takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan”, the effort we put into dreaming of change might better be applied to actual measures to effect the change we want. The dream may fuel the cause. But the cause must have a practical purpose into which that energy is channelled. The purpose of Scotland’s cause is the dissolution of the Union. The dream begins to become reality with achievement of that purpose.

First Minister, I too am something of an admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt. I find in her pithy aphorisms much that inspires me. It sometimes seems as if there is no set of circumstances for which one cannot find an apt quote of hers. And no present situation which cannot be brought to mind by something she once said.

For example, I read Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to “Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes”, and immediately think of the section 30 process and Boris Johnson. Or, for that matter, any British prime minister. I can only suppose that, when you committed so wholeheartedly to the section 30 process, you were unaware of this advice. Although, given that you are known to be very well-read, it may be more likely that you simply didn’t consider the sage advice relevant. I have to say that I find this perplexing.

I find it perplexing because I have such difficulty understanding why you, as Scotland’s First Minister and de facto defender of the sovereignty of Scotland’s people, would not consider our right of self-determination to be absolute and beyond the whims of any British prime minister.

I fail to comprehend why a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional status cannot have democratic legitimacy on the basis of the sovereignty of Scotland’s people and legal validity on the basis of international laws and conventions guaranteeing our right of self-determination.

Most of all, I cannot understand how both the democratic legitimacy of the exercise of our sovereignty and the legal validity of the exercise of our right of self-determination can be entirely contingent on the approval of a British prime minister whose democratic credentials are nonexistent and who treats the law with the same arrogant contempt in which he holds Scotland.

I cannot grasp this. I cannot accept this. I do not consent to this.

Which brings to mind more wise words from Eleanor Roosevelt: no-one can make you feel inferior without your consent. It is difficult to imagine being inferior to Boris Johnson. But that is what the section 30 process does. It makes Scotland subordinate to the British state. Right now, Boris Johnson is the British state. I do not consent to being made to feel inferior to Boris Johnson.

I close, First Minister, with two quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt which I think work well as a pair: “What one has to do can usually be done” and “what you don’t do can be a destructive force”.

What you have to do is extricate Scotland from the Union. It can be done. Not taking bold, decisive action to achieve the purpose of Scotland’s cause may well be seen by future generations as the force which destroyed Scotland’s beautiful dream.

Respectfully yours,

Peter A Bell