NEVER having held any political party membership, it is interesting to read the comments of Alba Party politicians, columnists and bloggers who criticise the SNP, and often Nicola Sturgeon, for wishing, seemingly in their minds, to control not only the SNP but the whole independence movement.

Setting aside the cursory observation that some of these individuals appear to have fairly large egos (if not small chips on their shoulders) and the belief that their perceived route is the best and perhaps the only route to independence, it is often difficult to deduce a comprehensive strategy from their comments that is actually going to help deliver independence, and soon.

Individual troops on a battlefield are not necessarily best-placed to appreciate a general’s overall strategy, which may astutely include withholding particular tactical details from all but a select few, but in such a situation most objective observers would conclude that even if the troops have legitimate concerns, it would not be advisable to undermine the general at the time he\she has taken the troops to the brink of victory.

Previously, the SNP leadership was criticised by Jim Sillars for wanting to keep Scotland in the European Union, but if Scotland had followed Jim’s strongly held opinion and had voted for Brexit, then not only would we not have helped to potentially avoid suffering the catastrophic economic consequences we are now experiencing, but “Yes” arguments today could have appeared considerably diminished without Scotland having voted for a different outcome. This does not mean that every decision made by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP will in retrospect prove to have been the best decision that could have been made, but those who claim that no progress has been made since the referendum seem to be living in a relatively tiny bubble.

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The fact that even polls sponsored by pro-Union parties have the vote roughly equally split at this time in spite of the incessant barrage of negative Scottish Government stories and UK Government propaganda across the mainstream media, including the purportedly impartial BBC, is remarkable. Even those most critical of the SNP and the Scottish Government must accept that the perceived authority and competence of the UK Government is substantially weaker today than it was eight years ago, and during that period the First Minister has risen in the eyes of many objective commentators across the UK as not only being an excellent and effective communicator, but also both compassionate and competent in responding to the extreme challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The question of currency appears to be a “divisive issue” for those who choose to interpret the words that an independent Scotland will adopt a new currency “as soon as practicable” as deliberately delaying the timing of this highly significant event, but basic common sense would suggest otherwise. Certainly most would agree that the Scottish Government should be doing everything possible now to lay the groundwork for making this move at the earliest date feasible but to set a date or exact timing at this stage would seem rather naive (if the chaos of the “mini-Budget” has taught us anything, it surely must be how quickly the economic circumstances of the UK could change ahead of what appears at present to be a future “ideal time”?).

While personally I disagreed with Jim over voting for Brexit, I shared some of his concerns and understood the reasons behind his views (I doubt that Jim and most sensible persons could have predicted the “hard Brexit” that the Tory UK Government has instigated). That said, it seems both of us could accept a “European path” that saw an independent Scotland initially trading as an EEA and\or EFTA member in the knowledge that experience gained through that early period could alter our views about subsequently joining the EU.

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Perhaps, like many, we may both be sympathetic to establishing a Scottish republic when independence is achieved – but our energies may not only be wasted, but perhaps be counterproductive to the cause of independence, if we devoted time now to convincing others of our views on this generally emotive topic. That does not mean in the interim not being critical of the SNP or its leader, but it does mean remaining positive overall and not presuming that our views have not been considered by those probably better-placed to assess their relevance to a wider strategy.

The final point I would make is that if prominent supporters of independence such as Kenny MacAskill, Kevin McKenna and Peter A Bell cannot put their personal political aspirations for Scotland to one side and find common ground with the SNP in primarily focusing on what unites all of us in our common ambition of self-determination for Scotland’s people, how are we going to find common ground with the still many “undecideds” and convince them that only with independence can we build the progressive society we all wish for our children?

Stan Grodynski

Longniddry, East Lothian