THERE was a very close referendum on a constitutional issue once. It’s probably not the one you’re thinking of – it was closer than that. It passed by fewer than 7000 votes in an electorate of more than two million. By 50.2% to 49.8%, the Welsh electorate voted for an Assembly in 1997.

Unlike the Scottish devolution referendum held on the same day, this was far from a conclusive vote. Yet, unlike other close votes, the post-referendum approach of the victors was one of consolidation, building and consensus.

The great Scottish football manager Bill Shankly (below) is reported to have said that his Liverpool team had beaten their opponents 4-0 and the losing team “were lucky to get the nil”. While that spoke to his team’s ability, too often politics seems to be about people trying to beat their opponents so comprehensively that they consider themselves lucky to get nothing. This is the UK Government’s approach to the losing side in the Brexit referendum. And it is totally counter-productive.

The lessons are clear for the independence movement. Where some people seem to think that roaming around the internet and ganging up to shout down their opponents on Twitter will win the next referendum, we know that we need to work together, discuss our differences with civility and reach out to those who are unconvinced.

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While doling out snark on the internet may give the illusion of strength, it breeds the same opposition, dissent and hatred as the Boris Johnson Brexit approach.

This isn’t just important because it helps to make the case for independence – it is important because it shows the kind of Scotland we want. We don’t want those who disagree with us to feel they cannot contribute to the new Scotland. One of the most interesting ways of thinking about this is to work out how we can guarantee “loser’s consent”. Rather than the winner-takes-it-all approach favoured by politicians like Boris Johnson, we should build our discussion so that whoever loses can consent to the result.

We need to find ways to make decisions in a collaborative way that allows everyone to feel they have contributed to the process. That is not to say we need to step away from our principles. We can have strong positions, but we must hold them loosely so that we can continue to work with our opponents after the decision is made.

THE Green-SNP co-operation agreement shows that this can be done, even between parties that have historically had very different positions on issues such as road building and fossil-fuel extraction. Where Scotland needed a refreshed approach to government, Greens were able to identify those things that they would continue to campaign on while contributing to government where they agreed.

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The aim has to be to create a vision of a Scotland that is appealing to the majority of Scots. The success of both Greens and the SNP in the recent local elections contrasts with the failure of the parties most committed to winner-takes-all politics. For all of the internet anger displayed by the supporters of other parties, it was the responsible parties who appealed to the electorate.

And a significant part of making that appeal is making sure that we are an inclusive movement – not one seeking the latest culture-war scapegoat to pick on. The parties most engaged in this deeply unattractive behaviour in the recent elections were those that did worst. We need a civic, inclusive movement to create civic and inclusive Scotland.

In Wales, devolution is now the settled will of the people. As a result of the hard work of those who built the devolved structures, the 2011 referendum on more powers for the Welsh Assembly passed with well over 60% of the vote. Where Brexit is less popular than ever before, the prospect of Welsh devolution being undone is deeply unpopular and very unlikely. And the Welsh Labour party, which delivered devolution, is, unlike its Scottish counterpart, still able to win elections after 25 years of devolution.

We need to learn those lessons, and build a strong and inclusive movement that is comfortable with itself and its country. And that movement will be best placed to reach out to the undecided voters, and to make everyone in Scotland comfortable with the prospect of independence. That’s what Aberdeen Independence Movement has been doing, and what we will continue to do. At this conference, we will be discussing how!