The National:

I DON'T profess to having the inside scoop on exactly what the SNP’s new independence taskforce will do. Call me old fashioned, but I was under the impression that the Scottish National Party was the independence taskforce.

But, as someone who dearly wants to see Scotland take our place in the world with the full powers of any ordinary country, then I am happy to welcome any efforts to sharpen our focus, strengthen our resolve and support the grassroots in delivering that future that Scotland wants and desperately needs, sooner rather than later.

Be in no doubt, May’s Holyrood vote is the independence election.

It’s not just that, of course. It is also about trust in government, who we see fit to represent our interests in the Scottish Parliament.

While politicians have been at pains to stress that there is nothing political about a pandemic, there seems little doubt that voters are looking to the future through that lens.

READ MORE: Will the Tories’ secret Union report ever see the light of day?

Our NHS which has been there for us in the toughest of years imaginable, do we want it in competent hands with the SNP or at the mercy of corporate plans by the Tories?

Do we want a future where our national parliament is beholden to Westminster in so many respects when it comes to keeping our population safe in times of crisis, or should we take all decisions for ourselves like grownups?

Do we see our future as Europeans, choosing to cooperate across the globe where that best serves our interests or will we sink with the Brexit ship?

When businesses face the most difficult challenges imaginable, why should we be waiting on lump sums from the Treasury when any self-respecting independent nation could borrow and invest now to protect livelihoods?

All of these issues are broader than independence, sure. But more and more people are coming to realise that they are all entwined with the constitution. Without the powers of independence, Scotland’s hands are tied.

That is why support for independence keeps pushing the 60% mark, poll after poll. That puts an ever-lower cap on the ambition of the Unionist parties combined, with 40% not a huge chunk of electoral pie to go around.

The latest nationwide missive from the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party which landed on doormats this morning makes a very welcome admission: “The only way to avoid another independence referendum [is to vote Tory.]"

An SNP win, in their words, will secure an independence referendum “as soon as possible - maybe even within the next year or two”.

Too right it will.

READ MORE: Why new national Yes organisation is a fundamentally different initiative

If the most recent party polling is to be believed, the Tories are looking at scraping together just 16% of the votes up for grabs in May’s election. No wonder yesterday’s announcement about the SNP’s new independence taskforce prompted such a frenzied response. And it was a response dripping with irony, from the party which just last year announced the establishment of a taxpayer-funded "Union Unit" within Whitehall.

And of course, the SNP’s news came within just hours of the UK Government announcing its Shared Prosperity Fund, to hollow out devolution, bypass Holyrood and slap a Union Jack on publicly funded projects which should be Holyrood’s domain. Against that backdrop, the whinging hypocrisy of the Tories is truly world class.

People know where they stand with the SNP: a party which wants Scotland to fulfil our potential as a fairer, more prosperous, independent country.

Likewise, they know where they stand with Boris Johnson’s Tory party, intent on clipping Scotland’s wings.

Growing numbers of people across Scotland know which of those represents a more enticing future. By saying it ain’t so in the face of growing support for independence, the Tories are on to a loser.