CASES of Covid-19 are rising across the UK and additional lockdown measures are being put in place in areas all over the country. We are at a critical moment in the course of this pandemic, and it is crucial we do not allow the virus to spread out of control again, as it did at the start of the year.

As well as remembering the Scottish Government’s FACTS at all times, you can also help keep the virus suppressed by heading to and downloading the new Protect Scotland app, which will alert you if you have spent a significant amount of time around someone who has tested positive.

You never learn that person’s information and that person never learns yours. The app, at the time of writing, had been downloaded nearly a million times, but every person who signs up makes it more effective so please download it, and encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to do the same.

As we passed the sixth anniversary of the independence referendum, the Tories rubbed salt on the wound by voting in favour of progressing the UK Internal Market Bill. You’ve probably heard a lot about it, and indeed you’ll be hearing more from me on it in the coming weeks when the bill hits report stage.

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But for those out of the loop, the bill in its current state would give the UK Government power to overrule the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments and Parliaments and effectively take control of spending in key devolved areas such as health, education, infrastructure, economic development and sport.

The SNP put forward amendments to exempt Scotland from these provisions and ensure that our Parliament – where we actually get the government we vote for, unlike the Tory government Scotland has rejected countless times at the ballot box – keeps the power over these matters. However, they were voted down by the Tories – including Mr I’ll-stand-up-to-Boris-for-Scotland himself, Douglas Ross. My colleague Alison Thewliss put it best: “With the support of Scottish Tory MPs, the UK Government has moved closer to its aim of dismantling devolution, stripping spending powers away from the Scottish Parliament and centralising powers in Westminster.”

So, if this is all so bad, what are we actually doing about it? The truth is we’re fighting it every way we can, but the Prime Minister has a massive majority, meaning that we are on a steeply uphill climb.

OK, so why not have indyref2 now? Why don’t we get out of this mess and hold the referendum in a month, now that we are clear the majority want independence? I get questions like this a lot these days. The answer is short: when we have our next indyref, I want to see independence actually happen.

We came closer to winning in 2014 than we had any right to. We didn’t start on the back foot – we started on our backside. The polling showed that support for independence was low, and even among those that favoured Yes, a lot were ambivalent. The way we turned that around was with a massive grassroots campaign, the likes of which we have never seen since.

What brought people round to the Yes side was people like my dad and I, who had never canvassed a door before, going to the experts and asking them what we needed to do. In my case it was my local SNP branch – they handed me a stack of leaflets and sent me on my way.

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Next time, they gave me a canvass sheet and told me to go knock on doors. That was my life for the entire campaign, every spare moment spent canvassing and leafleting and, eventually, speaking to halls packed full of people who weren’t sure how to vote.

We got to 45% because of ordinary people talking to their families, colleagues, and friends. That experience was the experience of so many people. Countless people who had never considered political campaigning before, hitting the ground and gathering data so the experienced people could figure out where we needed to focus our efforts, where we needed to register more voters, where we needed to focus our efforts to get people out to vote on polling day.

What we did in 2014, but with even greater levels, is what will be required to win the next indyref. I can’t wait to get started, but it is not just unsafe to do that kind of ground campaigning during a massive public health crisis, it would be utterly irresponsible.

If you are frustrated that we aren’t independent yet, I am with you. We cannot expect to reach the number of people we need to reach with leaflets and social media alone.

The ground game is critical – it is, in my view, the most important part of our future campaign – and we cannot do it with social distancing in place. So, we must first focus our efforts on solving this crisis. We will win independence by being smart, not fast.