THE very interesting and very positive YouGov Poll published this week, which showed that Yes is the choice of the majority of Scots, contained other information which indyref2 opponents have seized on.

The data shows only a minority think they should be able to exercise their right to choose their own future this year. Demand there certainly is, but not for any urgency – with greater support for a referendum to be held in the next five years.

The First Minister in her speech on Friday made it clear that she remains committed to the target date of this year and I agree with her. I also agree that we should be putting strong reasons to the Scottish people for that timescale.

The first reason is the achievement of certainty. For the past 43 months business has been reluctant to invest, higher education institutions have been uncertain about research links and projects and EU nationals have been nervous about their choice of home. Now there are only two ways forward for us – as part of a declining and insular Brexit Britain or as an independent country on the path back to full membership of the EU. We need to make our mind up so that everyone can know where they are going.

Secondly if we are going to re-enter the EU as an independent state we need to do so from as close as we can. The UK Tory Government is hell bent on breaking the links with the EU that guarantee high-standard approaches to employment, to the environment, to product and food safety and even to human rights. The claims from UK ministers that they are committed to maintaining such standards is pure verbiage, not least because in the pursuit of profit for their pals they will throw any and all restrictions.

But they will also make it as hard as they can for Scotland to keep pace with Europe in such matters, even if they are devolved.

Westminster wants to ensure that its one-size-fits-all approach to this issue prevails and is imposed on Wales and Scotland, though they cannot of course impose it on Northern Ireland given the special status which has been granted to Stormont. They are regularly making that threat crystal clear. We are going to have to fight every inch of the way to maintain dynamic alignment with the EU across the board and that will become more and more difficult as time goes by.

Finally, holding a referendum in 2020 will limit the time that the Johnson Government, and its little helpers in the Scottish Tory and Liberal parties, can defame Scotland with a totally false narrative about the delivery of public services.

As I pointed out in the debate on an indyref in the Parliament last week, the Tories need to take the beam out of their own eye before trying to take the mote out of ours.

In health, in education, in justice, in transport, in procurement, the poor delivery of public services south of the Border by the Tories is a scandal yet they are getting away with such a dereliction of duty, borne out of a constitutional obsession with Brexit.

Part of their success in that is the deflection they are practising by pillorying Scotland for things that are much, much worse, in their jurisdiction. No government is perfect but the SNP Scottish Government is delivering to a high standard and where there are problems they are being tackled. But worse still, I believe that the motivation for such dishonest tactics is also about undermining devolution so that it can be weakened to the point of near extinction. That has been a classic tactic by all colonial powers – the insistence that those in the colony are too feckless, too stupid, too indolent and too poor to be able to run their affairs. It was said about America in the 1770s, about every part of the British Empire as it disintegrated after the Second World War and is still being said about us.

We should laugh it to scorn but we should also make sure we are not around long enough to allow it to sap the energy and strength of all those good, good people who work for others across communities day and daily.

All these reasons indicate that 2020 is the right year for a referendum. And why wait? Scotland can be a better place and we shouldn’t hang about in our work to make it so.