PERHAPS some of us have a tendency to become entitled and selfish about Scottish independence. We often talk in terms of it happening “in my lifetime”, or “in this generation”. We want it to happen while we’re still alive. We quickly forget though, about the hopes and dreams of all those towering figures of the Yes cause who came before us and didn’t even live to see the day when the SNP became the predominant political power in Scotland.

Indeed, the fact we’re all still here fighting for independence owes much to the commitment of all those people who kept the flame burning when an independent Scotland seemed as likely as the royal family taking in refugees. These old heroes knew it wouldn’t be happening in their lifetimes either, but they kept at it so that they could bequeath their dream to their children and grandchildren.

READ MORE: Gerry Hassan: The SNP and five key steps to Next Generation Independence

And besides, if we assume that the world isn’t about to end in the few hundred thousand years or so, what’s the passing of a generation in God’s grand scheme? So long as Scotland does eventually get the opportunity to determine its own future for a significant portion of those millennia.

It’s not being fatalistic or doom-laden to consider seriously the present reality regarding an independent Scotland: it ain’t about to happen any time soon. But maybe that’s alright. Maybe we can live with that.

And maybe all those signalling their intention to quit the SNP following Humza Yousaf’s elevation to the office of first minister should pause and think this through.

Many of those 50,000 members who quit the party in the last four years did so as it became clear it had been captured by those who use gender reform to justify violence against women.

Yet, if they had held firm, then Yousaf wouldn’t have gained the keys to Bute House and we could all have dared to dream that independence might still happen in this generation.

The National: Joanna Cherry, the MP for Edinburgh South West, writes on the SNP leadership race

Joanna Cherry (above) became the chief target of those who used the bogus virtue of “progressiveness” to mask their neglect of real social improvement. Yet, she stood firm in the face of the onslaught and was vindicated by the ignominious departures of those who had orchestrated the campaign to silence her.

Independence will probably not now happen before the end of Cherry’s political career, but she’ll keep fighting for it inside the only party who can realistically deliver it.

Those who believed that Yousaf would plough his own furrow had their hopes dashed within a few hours of his victory in the contest to succeed Nicola Sturgeon. Immediately, he chose to tell a television reporter about his intention to ask for a Section 30 order from the UK Government.

How this was received by the existing Cabinet; the National Executive Committee and the party’s MSPs and MPs is anyone’s guess. Some might have expected the courtesy of a discussion about this. That he chose not to do this was reminiscent of his predecessor’s approach to such matters – tell as few people as possible and let the rest of them find out on the Six O’Clock News.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf must recover the co-operative spirit of the Yes movement

And then, before the SNP’s career wing had time to toast their reprieve in the wine bars of Edinburgh and London, he broke his first leadership pledge: that he would seek legal counsel before deciding on whether or not to pursue the very expensive option of challenging the UK Government over its blocking of the GRR Bill. It was a sign that, like his predecessor, he was prepared to ignore the feelings of the overwhelming majority of the Scottish public who oppose some aspects of this legislation.

His first public photo-op was with the two Scottish Greens whose infantile attempt at blackmailing the SNP membership during the contest was consistent with their conduct since they first got the keys to their ministerial cars and expenses.

For them, it was – as it always has been – about bullying and intimidating women (it’s always women) who seek to defend their sex-based human rights. It’s never been about how best to make Scotland an independent nation.

Until now, the SNP have been able to deliver a succession of election victories by holding out the promise of a second referendum. In each of these, they were assumed to have been sincere in their intentions.

All the while though, they were undermining those within the party who were agitating for a Plan B. It was thus all about maintaining power. Independence could wait. And keep waiting. In the meantime, the pension pots grew fatter and the second homes were being fitted with new kitchens.

I fear this is the moment for which Scottish Labour have been waiting and that the prospect of them clawing back several seats at the next UK and Holyrood elections is now more likely than at any point since 2011. Of course, this still won’t be enough to topple the SNP government, but it will kick the prospect of a second independence referendum another decade or so down the road.

Last week, I discussed what a Yousaf victory would entail for the wider independence movement with a prominent Yes activist. She was relaxed about independence being off the table for another few years. She even suggested that a period in opposition could be the making of the SNP. “It would give us an opportunity to consider why the leadership sacrificed the pre-2015 gains on the altar of their own self-indulgence.”

The National: Professor of History Tom Devine.

Her words echoed those of Professor Sir Tom Devine (above) the previous week when I interviewed him.

“After its defeat in 2011 the Labour Party in Scotland went into a tailspin of decline,” he said.

“Part of this was rooted in a near psychological stubbornness in the old guard in finding it difficult to face the future without making necessary changes for its survival. In such circumstances there is the temptation to close ranks and react defensively to anything and anyone who challenge that hegemony.”

This is what I believe is happening right now with the SNP. The tangible desperation to see Yousaf become leader was driven by an old guard desperate for one last journey on the independence gravy train.

Only when they are finally cleared out and the party stops governing for the small army of professional soup-takers who have leached from it this past decade can we seriously entertain the dream of independence once more.

Until then though, it’s vital that the rest of us keep the flame burning as best we can.