WHAT will be the issues in the next independence referendum? Undecided voters have concerns such as Scotland’s ability to cope financially as an independent country, how we will attract businesses to provide more jobs and grow the economy, pension arrangements, how we will defend ourselves and what our place will be in the outside world. We need to address these and other concerns.

Yet to the outsider the SNP, the main party of independence, seems to be more concerned about internal disputes and arguing ferociously over topics which, whilst important, must be secondary to our main aim.

To be fair there have been efforts within the Party to remedy this situation. Chris Hanlon, SNP Policy Development Convener for the last year, says in his annual report that the committee has overseen efforts to assist in the development of motions to be put to the Annual Conference highlighting some of these issues, but complains that progress has been hindered by central resistance to change.

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However it is unfair to put all the blame on the Party at large. We have our government which should be in an ideal position to deal with these important issues but doesn’t seem to be doing so. Part of the problem, perhaps, is that although we have 10 excellent and intelligent cabinet members they have between them hardly any experience of business, technology, science or intellectual property yet these are some of the fields which are vital to Scotland’s prospects.

The government must explain in detail how we are going to make Scotland not just a fair society but also a prosperous one if we are to have a hope of winning the referendum. Some work may have been done on these topics but if so it has not been widely publicised. Talent from outside the SNP should be utilised more fully.

Let me make a few suggestions which will, no doubt, antagonise many but which I argue are more in tune with realpolitick. It will help enormously for a smooth transition to independence if we recognise English concerns and do our best to accommodate them.

For example, England is desperate to keep its nuclear deterrent. Instead of insisting that the nuclear capability is immediately withdrawn it would benefit both sides if we negotiated a temporary lease for Faslane, income for Scotland and time for England to readjust to the new circumstances.

And as far as energy is concerned we are mad to consider not developing the Cambo oilfield. As Richard Thomson MP and other north east parliamentarians said in last week’s Sunday National, we are going to need fossil fuels for many years to come before green energy takes over -- why deliberately put ourselves and allies subject to the whims of President Putin or the Saudis? And let’s review again our opposition to all genetic modification of crops.

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As well as dealing with the nuts and bolts of explaining how Scotland will cope in the aftermath of independence we need a coherent vision for the future. In their book Scotland 2070, Ian and Dorothy Godden and Hillary Sillitoe describe how the melting of the polar ice cap will place Scotland at an amazing advantage with the development of new East West trade routes, draw attention to the economic potential of reforestation and many other topics. You may not agree with them but the important thing is that they are encouraging us to look further ahead than the ends of our noses.

So let’s explain to the electorate exactly how an independent Scotland can succeed in the short term and debate where our long term future lies. And stop turning away support by squabbling amongst ourselves about issues such as gender recognition or the precise details of what is a hate crime.

Such topics, like the future of the monarchy, can best be dealt with by the government of an independent country and it would be a tragedy if such bitter infighting sabotaged this outcome.

Ian McKee