ISN’T it extraordinary? Support for Scottish independence hits 54%; support for the First Minister’s leadership in the midst of a pandemic wins widespread acclaim within and outside Scotland; the primary party of independence is seemingly on course for another big win at the next Holyrood elections; political opponents are marginalised and in disarray and yet … still there are some supporters of independence who it seems can’t fight back the urge to try and pull it all down around us as if none of this were actually happening.

Sometimes you just need to unplug from social media and get your bearings in the real world again. Remind yourself that the Holyrood electoral system is not rigged against the SNP; that the SNP needs SNP list MSPs to form a government; that people elect the SNP to govern competently, not just because of (or sometimes even despite) its stance on Scotland’s future; and that the condition of Scotland, improving people’s lives and the cause of independence all take precedence over any individual political ambitions.

And also that there’s no Plan B, C, D or Z out there for winning independence worth a damn right now if it doesn’t involve a lawful referendum … and that as Catalonia shows, there is no international community waiting to embrace an independent Scotland unless we follow a legitimate route which makes it impossible not to.

Perhaps the recent electoral strength of the SNP has made

people complacent, especially those who have little memory of what it was like to be active in the SNP while the party was in third or fourth place in Scottish politics, with support for independence viewed as the preserve of cranks and eccentrics rather than as the emerging, mainstream popular majority position, or of the hard work it has taken over decades to get Scotland to this point.

And make no mistake, the Unionist parties are in quite a panic right now. Labour are in the middle of a leadership crisis over the ineffectiveness of Richard Leonard, with our old friend Lord Foulkes and even Archie Macpherson (!) urging him to step aside.

PREDICTABLY, the Tories have been even more ruthless, making Jackson Carlaw (pictured) walk the plank just nine months out from the Holyrood election. There was a much-trailed “crisis briefing” in Downing Street a couple of weeks back where the Prime Minister was shown the reality of current opinion polling in Scotland.

From the reaction, we can only assume the Tories’ private polls say much the same as the public ones we get to see for ourselves.

Namely, that the SNP retain huge support — however qualified or grudging some of that might be — and that independence support has moved into the majority. Straight away, the Prime Minister dispatched himself north to carry out photoshoots where he was in no danger of meeting any member of the public or journalists with awkward questions.

Behind the razor wire of RAF Lossiemouth, he proclaimed the “sheer might” of the Union — something which raises suspicions that he might have hired Dr Spooner as his scriptwriter. Following Carlaw’s defenestration, we can see why the Prime Minister chose to visit Moray.

SHOULD Douglas Ross win his party’s Scottish leadership, he’ll almost certainly get in at the top of a Tory regional list next May along with a similar number of party colleagues as he has now, despite what the proponents of the multitude of “pro-indy” list only parties might have us believe.

Nevertheless, there’s much more to read into this hasty leadership change than the Tories accepting that Carlaw had been badly missing the mark. Let’s take it as read that the Tories are writing off any lingering hopes they had for winning next May. Absent policies for government or endearing personalities to look credible as potential ministers, the Tory strategy will be to hang on to what they can, all while hoping to find the “courage and indefatigability” to not lose the hard-core Union vote to their own fringe competitors.

Their number one aim will be to deprive the SNP of a majority, so that even if there is a pro-independence parliament, they can try to hold this up as a reason for not “allowing” indyref2, potentially forcing us into the courts in search of lawful confirmation instead.

However, taken alongside the Cabinet “love-bombing” of Scotland we are about to see, this is also clearly about getting themselves sorted out in preparation for the self-same indyref2 that they are still publicly adamant isn’t going to happen.

Here’s the thing, though. If the Tories were really confident of being able to block indyref2, surely they’d just have let Carlaw bumble on, repeatedly saying “No” in the hope enough SNP folk would just fold like wet cardboard and start squabbling over who wants independence the fastest and over the best way to get it?

But then, the Tories aren’t that daft, which is why they are paying the SNP the compliment of assuming that they aren’t that daft either.

Never mind the distractions and short term self-satisfactions of looking for the flaws in the folk standing alongside us or looking for shortcuts to independence which don’t exist.

May’s election will be the moment when independence supporters can make indyref2 an unstoppable reality. Let’s keep the faith and above all, let’s keep the heid.

This article was originally published on Richard Thomson’s Medium blog and was written for the upcoming edition of the Scots Independent