I VISITED my old high school this week for the first time since I left. As much as I found school challenging for a number of reasons pertaining to being an undiagnosed autistic, I really loved school and it was a joy to be back. I was there to watch my younger sister in the school’s production of We Will Rock You and besides the evidently increased budget of the drama department since I played Penny Lou Pingleton on that very same stage it’s almost as if time had stood still.

Everything about the place was exactly as I remembered it. From the position of the clock in the assembly room to the soggy toilet roll that had been fired onto the roof of the girls’ bathroom. Even the teachers – many of those who taught me as a teenager still teach there today. It’s as if no time has passed at all.

Albeit bittersweet at times, nostalgia is a warm and glorious feeling. It’s the closest thing we have to time travel and we should indulge in it more often. It often crops up at just the right time to remind us of who we are and what we believe, reconnecting us with our identity when we need it most.

It also extends its influence beyond personal experiences and I find that it fosters unity and healing across division like little else. My recent trip down memory lane got me thinking about years gone by – and how we might apply a similar dose of nostalgia to our political differences.

The independence movement has undoubtedly fragmented in the nine years since the referendum. I’ve often said that separation across the movement was inevitable post-2014. We found ourselves in a situation then that, to anyone with any political insight, had very limited longevity. People flocked to the SNP en-masse and the uniting prospect behind that support was singular – independence for Scotland.

Half of the country supports independence, which means that support transcends demographics and political preferences. We united under one theme back then, but it was always only a matter of time before the political differences within that movement began to show and subsequently branch off. Like any other political issue, independence looks different to different people, and we don’t all support it for the same reasons.

If we are to achieve it, we have to grasp those differences and take them with us. Or we will not win.

I fear that in more recent times, we have become too focused on the issues we are divided on – and we’ve forgotten about the dream we united behind 10 years ago. As independence campaigners often say on the doors – the political persuasion of any Scottish Parliament post-indy will be decided by the Scottish people once we are independent. Yet, as a movement, we are not applying that principle ourselves.

How have we got to a point in our journey to independence where Alex Salmond intentionally causes more political difficulty for Nicola Sturgeon than Douglas Ross?

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I defended Lorna Slater on Twitter this week, after a desperate attempt by the Tories to oust her for a deposit return scheme that they themselves torpedoed, and I was met with two days of bitter abuse. Not from Unionists – but overwhelmingly from independence supporters.

Separate parties or not, how does unleashing the attack dogs on fellow independence supporters do anything positive for our cause? Hint, it doesn’t.

There is much to be said about online independence discourse. It is embarrassingly toxic and feels worlds away from the united, grassroots and organised community spirit we enjoyed back in 2014. At this point, who needs the Tories to stoke the division? There’s enough of it in our own ranks.

There are of course a number of factors driving the most toxic aspects of this division – moral panic about GRA reform was a huge catalyst, and those tensions have undoubtedly been capitalised on by a number of people within the independence movement to secure prominence, in their own interests.

And it could be argued that many of these pro-independence accounts online that spend their days hurling abuse at other independence supporters, could well not be independence supporters at all. We’ve no way of actually knowing.

One thing I do know is that it’s both embarrassing and deeply sad in equal measure.

Pre-referendum 2014 was one of the most exhilarating times of my life. Chapping on every door I could find. Telling anyone that would listen of my hopes and dreams for an independent Scotland. Losing myself in the sheer hope of it all.

The positivity of our campaign was what struck me in the first place, taking me from a solid no vote to a resounding, unequivocal yes.

Whilst the opposition bleated on about how we were too wee and too poor, we gave people hope. Hope that a better future was possible, no matter where you came from or what your circumstance. I remain proud of that. We didn’t win not because our cause was lost or our campaign strategy didn’t work, but simply because the country was not yet ready.

Arguably, our campaign strategy was a huge success. We more than doubled our support for independence. Is it any wonder figures have become somewhat stagnant whilst the very movement that united to deliver that result, are fighting like cats and dogs? The greatest gift you can give your opposition is your own division.

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2014 was difficult to stomach, there’s no doubt about it. It was always going to take a while to recover from and find our focus again. But as we approach the 10-year anniversary is it not about time we rediscovered that old spark?

We might disagree on every political issue but independence, but if we ruin our chance before we even get there those political issues will remain irrelevant. They will remain decided by unelected governments that we don’t vote for.

It’s time we tuned in to the nostalgia of 2014. Instead of thinking of all the ways in which we are divided, we need to refocus on all of the things we got right back then. The world-class levels of grassroots organisation enjoyed by no other political movement in the UK. The community. The passion.

We need to return to the foundation that we built all of this on. Hope.