THERE is an, almost certainly apocryphal, story I have always loved. It involves the travelling Celtic support at their most recent European final in Seville in 2003. After the match two Celtic fans were thumbing a lift on the road out of the city for the 1800 mile trip home.

A Scottish car stops and asks them if they would like a lift. “Great where you headed?” they ask. “Edinburgh” comes the reply. “Ach no you’re alright then,” they said, “we’re going to Glasgow”.

The short sightedness of not getting on board for the first 1750 miles of the trip is obvious.

And this is often how I feel about the politics of those of fundamentalist purity that would rather wait for their chosen nirvana to be delivered in full than move significantly closer to it today.

I felt this way about devolution. Some in the SNP argued that a Scottish Parliament would be a trap that would derail the cause of independence. Better to wait for the distant dream to come in one go than campaign for a staging post on the journey.

This has been proven to be wildly incorrect by history.

Success is best won whenever it can be won, even in stages. This alternative strategy was called “gradualism” because it was about progress by degrees rather than one fell swoop.

I have always been an adherent to this argument because I believe gradualism to be a quicker and more sustainable route to progress than fundamentalism.

The rights and the wrongs of that however is largely for the birds now because the independence cause has been about the gradualist case to create the Scottish Parliament, grow its powers and responsibilities and now to complete them.

The urgency for the next step is obvious both because the opportunities are so great and because the alternative prospectus is so risky, dangerous and grim. The status quo of extremist Brexit Britain is a prospect that all reasonable people will be right to fear. The case for Scotland gaining normal independent status, taking responsibility for itself and returning to the community of nations and Europe is compelling.

I was first convinced of the intellectual coherence of “Independence in Europe” by the powerful intellect and deeply persuasive articulation of Jim Sillars, the former Labour and SNP MP and one-time deputy leader. I like Jim and respect him hugely. Growing up he was one of the greats I looked up to. I still do.

In more recent years he has changed his view of the European Union and that is his right, in my view, to be wrong. In doing so he joins his old nemesis Jim Fairlie, another former deputy leader who left the party long ago and has been very consistent in his opposition to the EU.

Both said this week they couldn’t vote for the SNP because of its pro-Remain stance. There have been hints that even voting Yes might be a problem if it meant a return to the EU for Scotland.

I think this is a colossal strategic error from two great minds. Leaving aside the rights and the wrongs of the European argument for another day, I think it is the equivalent of staying by the side of the road in Lisbon hoping for a lift that might never come. Comfortable in the intellectual certainty and purity of that position but ultimately waiting for ever to progress.

Scotland has spent many centuries being world class at feuding with ourselves and losing the bigger picture.

It seems to me that the game of Association Football was invented so that Scots could live out their national calling to miss from one yard at key moments, to promise much and then snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It is in our national DNA, and we must stop it.

Not every detail of every vision for what an independent Scotland will do can be agreed in advance. That, in essence is the point of independence – to be free to choose and have our democratic choices matter, every time. We are our choices.

So, by all means believe that Scotland would be better independent and outside the EU. I passionately disagree. But unless being outside the EU is more important to you than Scottish independence, then it would be really self-defeating to hurt the independence cause because its main advocates wanted to do different things with independence than you.

I cant recall meeting, if any, people who start from a pro-independence position but part company because being out of the EU is more important, even if it means being under extremist Westminster control.

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Undoubtedly there will be plenty of SNP and 2014 Yes voters who voted Leave in the EU referendum because a large minority of Scots did. What that emphatically does not mean is that the SNP should ignore principles and box cleverly duplicitous to try and sweep up every vote.

Scotland will not become independent unless the SNP are successful. That independence must be articulated by the SNP in an honest and clear way – the antidote to, and antithesis of, the Brexit fallacy.

The Sustainable Growth Commission set out a framework of how Scotland can transition towards independence and lay the strong foundations that the country needs to make its own choices about the sort of country it wants to become in the generations to come. It is those foundations that will make our choices, when independent, sustainable and successful. Choices matter.

If you wish Scotland to leave the European Union then you are free to make that argument. I do not believe it to be in our interests as a country and I don’t believe it would be a winning prospectus for independence.

But the whole point of independence is the democratic one. The future of Scotland is determined by the people who live in Scotland. That is the core truth we all must unite behind. Our choices, every time.