HAVING pored over the content of the Sunday National, it became clear to me that apart from the sadness of leaving the EU being comprehensively covered, the main issue for discussion was the content and delivery of the FM’s independence speech.

Constructive criticism is welcome and in fact should be encouraged. A wide spectrum of comment and opinion was expressed by politicians, experts and readers.

In essence, a number were either extremely disappointed with the content and lack of enthusiasm of the FM’s speech, regarding it confused, lacking in direction and suggesting timidity towards an independence referendum now. Another group saw the pursuance of a Plan B as the only way forward in response to Johnson’s dogged “no” to Section 30 approval.

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Others, including the FM, suggested pursuing a more steady agenda involving a hearts-and-minds campaign, more consultation, canvassing the support of the undecided and sticking to a legal approach that will gain the support in Europe and globally.

To date the FM has had the unstinting support of the majority of SNP and independence supporters but for the first time, cracks in this solidarity are appearing. Getting independence is the goal we all wish to achieve, but how you get there is now open to discussion as never before. Different factions have suggested alternative ways, some plausible, some not.

The First Minister’s speech did little, it seems, to placate everyone. Of particular concern to me was the content of Sunday’s long letter by Ann Christie. I believe her analysis to be rather harsh, in some places rather inaccurate and worryingly divisive. Activists are acutely aware of the contribution they make for the furtherance of the party’s ideals. Sadly what comes across in this article is misplaced criticism (“there is no plan”, “the management is bereft of ideas”, “todays speech offered no hope, no support no ideas”). I do not agree with these generalisations, in fact they represent clear ammunition for our opponents.

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Her suggestion that a “new political force now develops” to take independence forward is not only divisive but highly provocative and the last thing the independence movement needs. Overall we do need to hear and read criticism, but it has to be constructive and helpful. In my view the key areas covered by

the FM are eminently sensible: doubling the SNP campaign spend; creation of a new constitutional convention; commissioning new Scotland papers on the case for independence. Sticking to the legal route towards independence should not preclude examination of alternatives, but these need to be extremely well thought out.

Whatever route is taken and whatever strategy is adopted to achieve our independence, due regard must be paid to the realities of the politics involved, the timing, the message and the economics. It is clear to me that the most crucial aspect is to only go for independence when we know we can win. Everything is subordinate to this! When will we know the best time? When it is clear that the polls, the support, the environment are all in unison, then we go! I truly believe that we will know when this is the case.

To get there will require patience and the dogged determination of our supporters. To date we have the momentum, we have the election results in our favour, we now have the support of Unison, the clear support of the EU, the democratic moral high ground, the polls in our favour and an ever-expanding Yes movement. In the end its all about votes. We have to get the numbers to deliver our independence. How many votes do we need? How many can we count on now? It’s clear that at the moment we do not have sufficient votes to win a majority. We can work out and estimate how many we need to get to 60%. Rushing into a referendum as soon as possible is true folly. Going on a Plan B route is just a distraction. We have to adopt a broad front, careful, well planned and patient strategy as outlined by the First Minster and we will get there. We have the time mark my words.

Finally can I appeal to the impatient, frustrated supporters? I know how you feel but bide your time, keep going, retain our solidarity, show no weakness to the opposition and we will get there.

Dan Wood