I’VE seen a lot of people online contrasting where they were at 2010 and where they are now, usually a list of achievements.

I’m feeling particularly reflective lately. This year in particular has been a rollercoaster personally and professionally. I’m so lucky – my passion is how I earn my salary, I get to be a full-time activist for independence and have had a leading role in the events of the last few years in the run-up to and the aftermath of the EU referendum.

I wouldn’t claim the same in the independence referendum, I did my bit but I was one of many. Since 2016 I’ve had a virtually unique role. 2019 especially was a big year.

At Hogmanay last year my team and I were being sacked on March 29. Then we weren’t – it was a month later. Then it wasn’t. Then there was no danger there was going to be a European election in Scotland or the UK, then there was. The leadership of the “People’s Vote” campaign was already showing signs of being beyond useless, but from Scotland’s perspective we had to keep our options open and keep plugging away at any way out, however implausible.

My good colleague of 15 years Ian Hudghton stood down as MEP so I had the privilege of leading a great team of SNP candidates to the party’s best ever European result, winning three seats as well as getting Christian Allard and my dear friend Aileen McLeod elected.

Aileen worked with me in Brussels from 2004 to 2009 and the plan had always been to get her in as MEP – it was a fairytale result.

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For a few months, because Brexit was definitely happening on October 31, the latest Tory PM said he’d rather die in a ditch than extend. Then he did. As I settled Christian and Aileen in, I continued watching Westminster with increasing anger and frustration at our powerlessness.

I decided to go where the fight is and throw my hat in the ring for Stirling for Westminster. If I won then I was replaceable in Brussels and if there was a chance of turning Brexit around it was in Westminster.

The internal SNP selection was, as it always should be, testing. I got a new flat in Stirling and made arrangements to sell my house in Edinburgh. The election then was not on the horizon, then suddenly it was. My great pal Bruce Crawford and Keith Brown, my other local MSP, had the best campaign I’ve ever been involved in in my 20-plus years of activism with an amazing team, and we won the heart of Scotland with 51% of the vote.

Except we also lost, because despite the result in Stirling and in Scotland, because of events down south there was no minority Labour administration or hung parliament, and it is clear Brexit is finally going to happen. So the weekend of my victory in Stirling I spent making arrangements to look after my Brussels team and close down the SNP in the European Parliament. I then arrived at Westminster and made my first speech in record time in the very debate I had been trying to stop, on the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, and had to watch helpless as it was approved by a bunch of Tories who, from what I have seen so far, have not a clue what its implications will actually be and are being at best recklessly hopeful and at worst callously uncaring.

So I’ve some news, I’m writing a book. I tend to write things down to marshal my own thoughts and process things, and I’ve been doing plenty of it lately.

Since the run up to the 2016 EU referendum I’ve been keeping notes and diaries – not least this weekly column in The National – and I think there’s a story that needs to be told. I’ve had a unique perspective from the heart of the SNP and the European Parliament on recent events, and want to contextualise that story for what it means for independence and what comes next for Scotland in Europe.

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Because where 2019 was a big year, I think it may well be small beer compared to what awaits us in 2020.

Independence has never been closer. What has been done to Scotland (and I say that very deliberately) since 2016, coming hard on the heels of the independence referendum in 2014, will I believe deliver our independence.

The UK has proven itself to be no longer fit for purpose, folks in Scotland who were not persuaded in 2014 are looking to the SNP and wider Yes movement for reassurance, for hope, that we’re serious and have the answers.

Many are not with us yet on independence, but they’ve moved enough to lend us a vote. Many might well be right of centre, but have a deep antipathy to Boris Johnson’s Tories and an instinctive Scottish distrust of where the UK looks like it is going.

The last years have been frustrating precisely because we’re not independent. If we had voted Yes in 2014 we’d be like Ireland now, concerned for our neighbour but able to take measures to protect ourselves as best we can.

But we didn’t, so some elements of the independence proposition were as yet unclear because there was still a chance to turn Brexit around. That changed on December 13.

Of course, many in the Yes movement want to go now, just go for it. No, we’ll go when we’re ready, this is too important. This needs to be done right in the eyes of the people of Scotland but also in the eyes of the wider world, and I’ve spent a lot of time in Brussels and elsewhere over the last years preparing that ground.

Another thing in 2019. I was elected the SNP policy development convener. Because of events we’ve not made the headway with that that I wanted, but in 2020 a number of roadblocks no longer exist. We’ll win independence through a million conversations. By listening. By being serious and taking concerns and doubts seriously, not dismissing them as Yoons or Naysayers.

We are every one of us an advocate for independence. In Stirling SNP we’re restarting our canvassing in the coming weeks to go out and have precisely those conversations, I’d urge you to get involved in yours locally and if your local SNP is not out canvassing then ask why. It has never been closer so lets get out there.