AS 2017 draws to a close, let’s hope this extended period of introspection the Yes movement has undertaken will also come to an end. I’m not saying that some self-analysis shouldn’t have occurred after the loss of 21 seats in June’s Westminster election, but the last few months have felt like there’s been a death in the family; all whispered conversations and wondering how not to upset people by saying something inappropriate.

This period has also been characterised by outbreaks of euphoria and glee among pro-UK commentators and the leaders of the Unionist parties. The Westminster result and a slew of strategically positioned opinion polls have fuelled optimism in their ranks that independence has been put back in its box for the foreseeable future and that they will all see out their years singing Rule Britannia and celebrating royal pregnancies. Ding-dong the witch is deid.

Yes supporters, in the absence of anything particularly re-assuring from the SNP leadership, seem to have succumbed to this malady. Perhaps I’m picking them up wrong, but few now dare to talk about independence as a reality or even a probability; merely once more as a distinct possibility akin to what was thought distantly possible following the SNP’s minority Holyrood victory in 2007.

Yet there is a shouty and shrill aspect to Unionist merrymaking that makes you think of children trying hard to show their pals next door that their fortnight in Millport was better than anything their chums had encountered at EuroDisney. The pro-UK lobby seem to be trying to convince themselves more than anyone else that everything’s alright. But there is something in their voices that speaks of fear and a sense of rising panic. Three years after the first independence referendum, they are in a place far worse than that which they had expected to occupy by now.

After all the opinion polls and the elections, after the chaos of Brexit and the geopolitical uncertainty wrought by a delinquent in the White House, one thing has remained constant in Scotland. Support for independence has remained true and steady at the 45 per cent mark that was secured after two years of campaigning prior to September 2014. If I was a fervent supporter of the Union in either the Scottish Labour Party or its fellow travellers the Conservative and Unionist Party, I’d be very disturbed at this. If, after the years of propaganda, lies and corporate threats and intimidation not a single Yes voter has budged, then what does that presage when it becomes clear to the country that Brexit has finally reached that road with no exit signs marked Perdition?

Prior to the starting gun being fired for the 2014 referendum, support for independence stood at anything between 28 and 32 per cent. In the space of less than two years several hundred thousand Scots who had never before considered themselves as nationalists – including myself – were persuaded to vote Yes. This represented one of the most fundamental emotional, spiritual and cultural shifts in the history of the British peoples.

If you were now to gather all those people together and ask them to provide reasons for participating in this upheaval, I suspect you’d find that the range would be quite a narrow one. We were persuaded less by the SNP’s strategy and its error-strewn White Paper than by the dawning realisation that England, after the false dawn of New Labour, had finally chosen to worship neo-liberalism and corporate greed. None of us were anti-English and few had any great love for the SNP, a party that we often viewed with suspicion and whose claims of radicalism we distrusted. But it seemed we were being offered a historic opportunity finally to abjure the immorality of the elites that would always manage England to their exclusive advantage.

As such, many of us felt we were ticking the box marked “Yes” for generations of our families who had gone before and who had participated in the struggles for trade unions, workers’ rights and the dignity guaranteed by the Human Rights Act. We felt sure they would have approved of the choice we made on September 18, 2014. They would have felt proud that their struggles and sacrifices had not gone un-noticed by those who had benefited from them.

During the first independence referendum we were told by a cast of shiftless Oxbridge C-listers, panicked that a quarter of the hallowed seat of empire was about to withdraw from their influence, that England was listening. When they realised that the corporate and financial intimidation wasn’t working they tried to love-bomb us. We love you Scotland; we value you; we are reduced without you. And then, having sacrificed our honour that night, we turned up for the second date only to realise we had been stood up; forsaken.

The three years that have since elapsed have not altered the prevailing mood in England or its unlovely instincts. If anything the empty values at its heart have been further embedded. The Grenfell Tower disaster stands as a monument to the avarice and cruelty to our fellow human beings that underpins neo-liberalism. Some have since said that it is a consequence of the gentrification of inner London. Gentrification though is a soft word that doesn’t even begin to cover the ethnic and social cleansing connived at by both Labour- and Conservative-controlled London boroughs where it has been permitted to hold sway.

In the process of Brexit, meanwhile, we have been able to observe the same immoral elements. The chief Brexiteers campaigned on an agenda based on hatred of foreigners and the false belief that these “others” had been responsible for all of Britain’s ills. It is why Jacob Rees Mogg and his fellow Brexiteer millionaires, in various states of mystical ecstasy, have raised once more the banners of Agincourt, Trafalgar and Waterloo. As well they might. For it was these great battles, waged by the aristocracy and fought by the poor for nothing more than land and gold, that gave them the riches and titles they still possess today. This is what their Brexit is all about, and to hell with the consequences for the rest of us.

Three years after the first independence referendum the reasons for de-coupling from a sick and decadent Britain have not gone away; if anything they have grown more pressing. The 45% haven’t gone away either and that should be a source of great comfort for the wider Yes movement and one of deep concern for the Unionists.