IN an interview with Sky News political editor Beth Rigby, former first minister and leader of the Alba party Alex Salmond has said that he will not let his "personal difficulties" with the current first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon stand in the way of any independence campaign.

He said that his personal differences with Nicola Sturgeon are insignificant in comparison with the national cause of regaining Scotland's independence. He also promised that he and his party will "contribute wholeheartedly, full scale to the independence campaign," adding, "that's what the party [Alba] is formed to do."

It was a welcome intervention and a sign that as Scotland moves towards a second independence referendum, the wider independence movement can start to move on from the bitter divisions and infighting of the past couple of years and focus on attaining our common goal: the restoration of Scotland's historic status as an independent European state.

The National: Alex Salmond in London

Mr Salmond told Sky News: "Like many people in the national movement, I'm just pleased that the starting gun has eventually been fired because they’ve waited on it for some considerable time."

He observed that with Boris Johnson now resembling "the stag at bay", now is the ideal time to press the case for delivering on an independence referendum. "I think it’s an open question if Boris Johnson will even be prime minister by the autumn," he said. "Therefore, this seems to be a very good time to exert the political and democratic pressure."

One of the biggest reasons for the divisions and infighting which have scarred the independence movement over the past couple of years has been the widespread malaise created by the feeling that the cause of independence was merely treading water.

This led to interminable arguments about strategy and tactics. These were all-consuming to many of those who were already convinced of the need for independence but of little interest to the soft noes and undecideds whom we need to get on board in order to be certain of a majority for independence.

This compounded what was already a serious problem in Scotland, where the traditional media is overwhelmingly hostile to the idea of independence, and which is as reluctant to present pro-independence messages as it is enthusiastic about amplifying anti-independence arguments.

Now that a new independence campaign is under way, the disparate voices of the grassroots independence movement have a more concrete goal to focus on. As Alex Salmond observed, the starting gun has now been fired and we are about to move into the next phase of the campaign, creating a head of steam for a referendum and maintaining the political pressure on Westminster.

The greater the pressure that can be exerted, the more likely it becomes that Westminster will concede that democracy demands that Scotland has its say – but also, crucially, it increases the chances of success of a potential route to independence that bypasses any requests for Section 30 orders. The more pressure that can be generated and the greater the support for independence that can be built, the more plausible it will be that Scotland can tell Westminster: with you if possible, without you if necessary.

We have a lot to do over the coming months. The need for independence has never been more pressing and the risks of remaining a part of the UK have never been more stark. We need to articulate a positive and compelling vision of the better country that Scotland could become once its full potential is unleashed with independence.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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