AS we approach a Holyrood election in May next year, for voters in the south of Scotland this raises an interesting question that Stacy Bradley (Letters, October 22) raised: “Will we see a rise in support for independence from the 34% identified as voting Yes in 2014?”

The Holyrood election and the push for independence are interlinked, as the SNP will highlight independence. But in the south of Scotland, the messaging is not the same. This perhaps is where I differ from Ms Bradley’s analysis.

Ms Bradley refers to the south as “the least understood” part of Scotland. It follows that if we want to achieve independence we need to understand those whose politics differ from ours. We do that through inclusion.

“I’m Conservative, I’ll always be Conservative, but I want to be a Scottish Conservative, not the form of conservatism we have foisted upon us from down south – it might take supporting independence to get that.” These were the words of a woman discussing this with her friend – who, with similar political interests, agreed. Thankfully they missed my raised eyebrows and instant self-reproof on stereotyping! They are not alone, this response is increasingly heard. The south-west of Scotland hasn’t always been blue, and Boris and Gove’s politics do not necessarily go down well here.

A current SNP MSP, Emma Harper (and also a candidate in the same constituency), has expressed her opinion on this. She said recently: “We have to make it clear to Conservatives that is it okay to vote for independence.” Apart from adding “and other parties”, I agree. It is a subtle but mature approach that reflects our specific realities.

Politics in an independent Scotland will not become an SNP monopoly, and in a modern and progressive democracy we need to be very clear about that and inclusive of all political opinions even if we don’t share them. Ms Harper is right and it is borne out by local experience.

When it comes to independence, we need to remind conservative-minded folk that “... and Unionist” is a codicil, not a prerequisite.

Steve Sloan