I AM all for maximum scrutiny and accountability and indeed ensuring that happens is the prime purpose of a parliament. But sometimes it becomes something else and FMQs often illustrates the problem. Labour, Tory and LibDem leaders (12 since 2007) line up to try to destroy or at least severely dent the SNP Government’s record and reputation no matter the topic, rather than seek, still less propose, constructive change.

That dismal approach has featured in most of the 500 or so FMQs in the last 13 and a half years and the same strategy is standard opposition fare across the country. Indeed a classic of the genre was distributed by the LibDems in my own constituency during the 2016 election – a four-page tabloid campaign newspaper in which every single article was a complaint about the SNP and our alleged failures.

But the remarkable opinion poll figures last week for both the SNP and independence illustrate yet again that the tactic isn’t working. So does the report from Progress Scotland (for which Angus Robertson needs to be thanked given his role in starting that organisation) which showed that around 70% of Scots think the current Scottish Government is competent, effective, responsive and empathetic.

READ MORE: ‘Get your coat, Scotland’: Scots react to news UK is heading for No-Deal Brexit

The reason is simple – people have seen the work being done and judged it by reference to their own lives. No government is perfect and there have been, and will continue to be, mistakes and matters that that go wrong.

But Scotland and the governance of Scotland has improved since 2007 and even now, when we face the worst double crisis in our lifetimes of a pandemic and a forced withdrawal from the EU, the focus of the First Minister and those around her is constant, positive and determined.

Of course commentators put forward a myriad of other reasons, blaming the opposition parties as well as either a supine or a supportive press (neither is true) whilst the wilder fringes of Unionism spin off into parallel universes of conspiracy which include bribed polling companies, comparisons to one-party states and no doubt faustian pacts with alien beings.

All these, I suppose, avoid tasting the bitter pill of truth which is that the SNP in government gets on with the day job. However it must continue to do so in order to secure independence.

There used to be a theory amongst nationalists which ran like this. If voters could just see some things in Scotland being run better by ourselves than by a London government then they would in time decide that all the powers still held by the UK should be repatriated.

The late Donnie Stewart took this a bit further, arguing that it was close-up experience of Westminster which made the real difference. He contended that independence would come more quickly if every voter spent half an hour in the visitors’ gallery of the House of Commons.

There isn’t a member of the Scottish Government who doesn’t want independence tomorrow. Nor is there one who does not realise that each day we are not independent means another day in which people are poorer, less equal and with fewer opportunities. The end of this year and the final calamitous withdrawal from the advantages of EU membership will undoubtedly make things worse.

READ MORE: Tory MP tells Scots to 'get used to' Westminster power grabs

Yet the SNP decided more than two decades ago that the route to independence lay through devolution. Later, partially as a result, the people of Scotland trusted us to govern and are now indicating in growing numbers that they want not just that but also to move on from our current incomplete state. To do so we must heed both calls and lead the country forward in the most responsible, and least harmful, way possible.

In reality there isn’t that much difference between the Plan A which will do that and is working and the other plans from other parts of the national movement which also focus on the importance of May next year. Publishing the final part of the independence legislation before the election (which is only six months away) and moving to a speedy referendum thereafter if it is endorsed by the people is the right approach.

That means keeping the heid and keeping on doing the range of work in government – for the people now, as well as in anticipation of their future – that is so much needed.

For if we go on showing our fellow citizens they can trust us with many of the important things, they will before long trust us with all of them.