THE prize of an independent Scotland when it comes, as it surely will, will be a prize hard won. The ink wasn’t dry on the Act of Union of 1707 before people started to agitate to overturn it. Of course the decision made then was made by a handful of people, the decision to repeal it will be made by millions of Scots.

It is understandable that, after the disappointing result of the 2014 independence campaign which had been an uplifting and engaging experience, tensions would be running high. Now, almost five years later, folk are champing at the bit for a second go. In the meantime we have seen promises of a better deal for Scotland if we stayed in the UK broken and the catastrophe that is Brexit revealing the barely hidden animosity of many against “foreigners”, immigrants etc.

Some very nasty people with very nasty views have been given positions of prominence and influence and allowed folk to think it is acceptable to behave in certain ways. We need to reject that – this is not the Scotland the majority of Scots want.

In 2014 I believe critical votes were lost because there was a lack of clarity on the future currency. Whether Alex Salmond and others were right or wrong about the future use of the pound is immaterial; sufficient numbers of people were sufficiently anxious about it to allow it to sway their opinion. Similarly the No campaign was successful in spinning enough scare stories about pensions, jobs, staying in the EU etc that another tranche of people were persuaded. Finally we had The Vow, now discredited for the sham it was. So, this time round we have more clarity about currency and we won’t fall for the same scare stories again.

Like it or not, the SNP with the support of the Greens is the only political vehicle for getting our goal of independence. We need them to steer us through the parliamentary process of holding a referendum and then negotiating the end of the Union. Once we have achieved that the people will decide on policies and the shape of our country. After independence there will be a seismic shift in Scottish politics as all the parties, SNP included, adjust to their new environment. The Greens might pretty much stay as they are, the SNP will have achieved their long-term reason for being and will need to morph into something else, the others will be free of London direction and may collapse in oblivion or convert into something that means something in Scotland. New parties may emerge and the whole Scottish parliamentary system will be overhauled.

There is lots to be done but that is all in the future. If we are to have that opportunity, however, every who seeks an independent Scotland needs to be focussed on that goal. The disagreements we are seeing over policy detail, inter-group arguing and name-calling etc is unhelpful. All of this plays in to the Unionists’ hands and gives them ammunition to fire at us. Our SNP leadership should be saying something positive to steady the ship at this time.

We are told there is no appetite for independence. The recent polls and the marches across the country say differently. The rise in the level of abuse directed at independence supporters, individually and collectively, shows the Unionists are rattled. We need to hold firm, keep the heid and not rise to the challenge of retaliating by lowering ourselves to their level. On the recent Glasgow March for Independence the advice for dealing with the small group of foul-mouthed, jeering protestors was to laugh, smile and wave back. Good advice as it infuriates them when they don’t get the reaction they want. Let’s adopt that advice for the other abuse and niggling we get. Let the people of Scotland see that ours is a campaign of decency and tolerance, the opposite of what is emerging elsewhere, and show them the type of Scotland a Free Scotland will be.

John Wilson