NO matter the time of year, Edinburgh always seems to be full of tourists. Suitcases on wheels, selfie sticks and the air polluted with a techno version of Scotland the Brave pumping out of one of the many tartan-tat shops.

Above Princes Street in an empty hotel cafe I meet Sarah, a beacon of calm, someone who allows you to forget instantly that you’re probably in the background of hundreds of Instagram posts.

Sarah, a coach, conflict worker and educator, is one of a growing number of people who voted No in 2014 but now supports Scotland becoming independent.

“I have become more informed about the resources that Scotland has,” she says. “In the run-up to the referendum in 2014, we had become indoctrinated to this idea that Scotland can’t stand on its own two feet. I now know that this isn’t the case and a country the size of Scotland, with the resources it has, can flourish.”

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Access to more information about Scotland’s potential, coupled with a better understanding of the needs, and by proxy, identity of Scottish society has been the major factor in moving Sarah towards the idea of independence.

This has, in part, been made more apparent by the grandstanding, am-dram pomposity of an out-of-touch and disrespectful House of Commons.

Sarah said: “I moved towards supporting independence because Scotland is not given enough recognition in Westminster and our views are not respected. We have a chance to make better decisions about what our society needs as an independent country.”

There is a growing realisation that our national identity is ours alone. That every week in Westminster, every disrespectful comment and wilful misunderstanding of Scotland’s needs as a country is another hammer to the wedge along the Border.

Although born in England, Sarah moved to Scotland when she was 18 and has spent the majority of her life here. She explains: “My mum is Scottish and every summer we used to go on holiday to the Highlands. The main thing I remember is the freedom. Nature, the hills, the rivers, the freedom to roam … it was incredible. As I got to know more people, I saw them as down to Earth, friendly and humble. As soon as I could, I moved to Scotland. This is home.”

In the past, a lack of information and clarity led to a fear that separation from the UK would create an isolated, disconnected and inward-looking Scotland.

For people like Sarah, this idea of breaking up the UK was something that went against the values by which she has lived: “My life and career has been about building relationships and bringing people together, so the idea of polarisation and breaking people apart seemed wrong to me.”

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Brexit is a common theme for many who have moved towards the idea of independence, but also highlights the ideological divergence between Scotland and other parts of the UK. “I was shocked at the Brexit result,” Sarah said. “It has definitely been another factor in becoming a supporter of independence. I spoke to family in England and didn’t recognise their point of view. They felt England was propping up poor countries in the EU. For me, it really shows how different Scotland is.”

A defining characteristic of the rhetoric around Brexit, during both the campaign and the fallout after the vote, is the vitriol, division, paucity of debate and profuse bitter arguments. Both in politics and in public people picked their side early on and defended it by trying to shout louder than anyone else.

It is exactly this kind of hateful discourse that we need to eradicate from campaigns over Scotland’s future. Sarah, who has worked in conflict resolution across the world agrees that “strong views need to be heard and are an important part of discussion, but it’s important to explore and share one another’s feelings and crucially, listen to each other”.

She added: “We need to have good debate, but this is a skill we appear to be losing. What we’ve seen over the past few years is aggression and hate, and it’s very scary.”

In the clothes we wear, the accent with which we speak, the life choices we tweet about and the places in which we’re seen, we are all sending out signals on which we will be judged or have assumptions made.

Our political views can become another signal of our identity, whether that is supporting a political party or ideology; this can define who we are and who we are not.

Sarah said: “I would love if everyone took a moment to think about the views they hold. If people would inform themselves with all the information that is out there and really ask themselves why they feel the way they do, can they articulate their feelings and stand by them.”

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For others to join Sarah on the move towards independence we all need to find a way to interrogate our deeply held beliefs. We need to move away from shorthand labels, actively listen to each other and move past presumptions.

The political landscape in which we cultivate our beliefs is constantly evolving, so it follows that we need to move with it, inform ourselves and truly understand the factual and emotional views we hold, not allowing independence to become a passive part of our identity.

Sarah said: “It’s human nature to make rapid assessments about what you wear, etc. What we need to do is stay in a conversation, whether that’s a in person or online, long enough to dispel presumptions and actually listen to each other.

“The possibility of independence excites me. We have an opportunity to engage in a rich dialogue about the country we want to become, despite the differences we may hold. Scotland has the resources, structure and people to become an amazing independent country.”