THE polls are, finally, moving our way. Two polls now, both showing both a healthy (indeed, remarkable) support for the SNP and, just, a majority for Yes. But only two polls, and both taken in a particularly febrile time in our national story, when polls could shift a lot in a short time.

I’ve committed the past 20 years of my life to the battle for independence. I want it yesterday. But we need to learn from other places, especially Catalonia. The Catalan parties made mistakes, egged on by fringe voices to rush things and leave themselves no other options. We need to be cannier. We are, of course, not Catalonia. We support the right to self-determination, but our claim is different, our history is different. Scotland has been independent far longer than we have been part of Great Britain. And our opponents are immeasurably weaker. But we need to learn the lessons of the mistakes of others or else we might repeat them, and chief among them is not to have a conversation about something that only interests ourselves.

I won Stirling, the most heartland of heartland seats, from the Tories in December with 51% of the vote, a seat that voted 60/40 No in 2014. If we don’t persuade seats like Stirling to vote Yes, we won’t win. And in my view, yes the polls are encouraging, but we still have work to do. We need to keep working on the issues that Scots care about, building on our team and track record, and persuading those open to independence like never before that independence will give us the tools to save Scotland from the crises we all face.

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I have, as I have written about in this column, been conducting policy Zoom meetings with constituencies up and down Scotland, and the discussions have been great. There’s passion, commitment and camaraderie. I would urge anyone who is an SNP member to get along to the local branch (most are meeting virtually in one way or another) and take part.

It is night and day to the online discourse which is too often shrill, shallow and so lacking in nuance and context that normal discussion needs.

In the 40 or so meetings I have had, there is agreement that we’re on the right track and, while we should of course look at other options, process is process and what will persuade people to independence is policy.

I’ve had some criticism on Twitter that I am, along with the rest of the SNP, being too cautious; that we should just “go for it”. There are some keen to advocate a Plan B on the process and procedures whereby we can achieve independence. The only person who has actually come up with anything substantive on Plan B is my old friend Pete Wishart, who suggested that we should look to Brussels for support in the absence of agreement from Westminster to respect a referendum. This is a similar mistake the Catalans made – there is no danger that the EU would grant a referendum, because it does not have the power to do so. But Pete has engaged with the debate and is coming up with actual ideas. The rest tends to be showboating chaff, easy to say, but rather more difficult to deliver in the real world. Besides, all this talk misses the biggest issue of all and our greatest opportunity – a big chunk of Scottish opinion is not yet persuaded Yes is the answer.

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THERE is our opportunity and our challenge. To use an awful phrase, “Middle Scotland” is open to persuasion like it never has been before, and we need to persuade. So we need to be persuasive. We need to talk their language and share their concerns. They are not remotely concerned about Plan B, they want to hear about the Covid crisis, business support, the climate emergency, social justice, sustainable travel, rent controls, the day-to-day nuts-and-bolts issues that we need to get into to make Scotland better. The day-to-day issues we would be in an immeasurably stronger position to deal with if we had the full powers of the normal state, and access to the full support of the European continent rather than just Little Britain.

A watershed will be today when we hear from the UK Chancellor what additional borrowing he will undertake on all our behalf in order to support business. The gloss on his support schemes thus far has fallen off very fast, and it is becoming more and more apparent that his furlough scheme has been in some cases comprehensively abused by unscrupulous employers to lay off staff.

Seasonal businesses, the self-employed, company directors of small limited companies, freelancers and those involved in the performance industries have been largely ignored.

We need to rectify that. In the creative sector the Scottish Government led the way in announcing support, now, happily, emulated by the UK. A lot of people are suffering in their day-to-day work and worse is to come. We need to be engaged in that day-to-day work and that will bring them to independence, not an endless succession of process stories about an issue many are barely thinking about.

Things are politically encouraging, but we have a lot of heavy lifting to do yet.