THE privilege of being permitted to write columns for national newspapers is one that comes with a few responsibilities. As time passes you establish a few of your own house rules. For me, these include trying not to be personally vindictive about anyone.

Life is short and nothing really ought to matter so much that you would willingly seek to cause hurt to the families of those whom you choose to criticise: a licence to malky is also a licence not to malky. Some senior politicians do test this from time to time, though, when it’s become clear they’re putting on an act for their personal fan club: “doing a bit” as a young friend of mine once said.

Another rule is not to criticise fellow journalists by name. This is a professional courtesy and one that most of us informally sign up to. It proceeds warily as a sort of uneasy truce among thieves. If I’m being honest though, I spend half the week in envy of some journalists because I wish I could write like them or in silent gratitude that I don’t.

Every other journalist is the same and they’re lying if they deny it. It’s why you rarely see any of us retweet another’s work. We’re a curmudgeonly, dysfunctional shower – often driven by envy and self-loathing – and should only rarely be admitted into polite company.

READ MORE: Class Wars: The problem with Darren McGarvey's representation of the middle-class

Another important principle is never to take offence at readers’ criticism. I’m paid reasonably well to censure and eviscerate others, so I can hardly get all resentful when some paying customers think my output is of a murder-polis strain.

No-one likes to be the victim of a social media pile-on, but whenever I’ve been the hapless object of the mob’s ordure it’s usually because I’ve been a bit of a fud. Best always to roll with the punches. That said, I’m keen to correct a chap who took to The National’s letters page last week to include me in a list of figures belonging to a specific camp within the independence movement. Thus, I was deemed to be a devotee of the SNP’s 79 Group and also a supporter of Alex Salmond. To be fair to this reader, it was only mildly critical and written with some elegance.

The only 79 group to whom I’ve ever pledged allegiance are the 10 Celtic players who won the league on May 21, 1979. 

The tendency to brand people simply for holding a specific set of political beliefs or for belonging to a religious faith that’s considered to be problematic has begun to characterise much of what passes for reasonable “debate” in the SNP. Sadly, this has begun to gnaw at the edges of the wider Yes movement. A bureaucratic uniformity is being imposed which now takes precedence over all other sincerely held views.

​READ MORE: What Scotland's independence movement can learn from the Catalan elections

If you deviate by a single degree from this ukase then you are deemed, by order of the cult that currently holds sway in this party, to be reactionary and regressive. It’s an inversion of truth and the sort of authoritarianism which runs contrary to the values of the Scottish Enlightenment on which our system of doing politics and making laws is based. Sadly, some of my fellow commentators, in their desire to seek favour with the powerful, have forgotten that their chief job is to hold it to account.

Tens of thousands of Yes supporters have been happy to march together All Under One Banner. But it’s becoming a very thin banner and it’s recently been set at a very low height. Some, when they’re not posturing as inclusive and all-embracing liberals, want to exclude my kind for stubbornly clinging to the tenets of a faith which actually led us to the independence movement in the first place.

If we want to get real about being All Under One Banner, then let’s stop pretending it’s a happy-clappy day out, smiling furiously at counter-protesting Unionists and straining to show the nice policemen that we’re all civic and polite.

In the name of God, we’re supposed to be Scottish. That means we have a tendency to fight like f**k but defend each other’s honour while doing so.

Let’s stop the nonsense that we’re a rainbow coalition of brothers and sisters who all hold hands at the end of each day and seek forgiveness for some imagined transgression.

It gets sweaty down here trying to be civil to people who do so much virtue signalling on social media they should be wearing traffic warden caps on their Twitter photos.

​READ MORE: Michael Russell: Brexit and independence are two sides of the same coin

But so what: if you didn’t exist I’d have to invent you, because who else am I going to have a fight with? But fight me honestly, instead of trying to cancel me because you don’t like my religion or the people I choose to defend or the bad company I keep when I’m getting howling in low taverns.

The sentiments I express in columns like this are real enough, but if these words truly represented the person I am half of it would be taken up with profanities and inarticulate, verbal outbursts at the drool being posted on Twitter as I pledge for the 100th time that day to turn off all notifications.

In real life I’m hesitant, clumsy, foul-mouthed and – if I’m being honest – a bit of a c*** at times.

And when Scotland does gain her independence, I’ll stand my ground and take on every one in defence of my faith – my family and my socialism – all of which are more important to me than independence.

But you’ll need to deal with it. Because to get independence over the line you’ll need the support of tens of thousands of c***s like me.