AT the weekend, the First Minister talked about our nation’s route to independence. It’s been a long and often difficult path to this point in time.

Many people feel frustrated that we aren’t independent yet, while others take comfort in how far we have come. Neither frustration nor contentment are adequate responses to the economic catastrophe unfolding before us. It calls for a renewed vision.

Last week it was confirmed that inflation remains high, having risen faster and proved more stubborn than it has in the US or the EU. In response, the Bank of England has hiked interest rates again, so that typical two-year fixed mortgage deals have interest rates of more than 6%.

Food prices are still rising, albeit slightly more slowly. It is a mess.

The real-life consequences of this are dire. People are desperate.

For some, mortgage increases have wiped out any spare resources that they had. For many, it risks their home.

This is Scotland’s lot, shackled to a Tory government that crashed the economy last autumn, after putting us on course for long-term economic decline with a dog’s dinner Brexit.

READ MORE: Behind the scenes at the SNP's Independence Convention

For example, the Tories promised to reduce red-tape, but have delivered far more bureaucracy. New customs processes, new infrastructure at ports and more queues than ever is what has happened.

That has real-world implications, as research at the London School of Economics claims that extra red tape could have increased the average grocery shopping bill by around £250.

So, while the Tory government protests its determination to repair the economy, it’s a bit like a chef promising to cook a five-star meal after burning the toast.

Labour are no better, arguing for radical change one day and then U-turning on the next day. And of course they’ve given up on membership of the European Union. So, there’s no great hope that a Labour government will make good on promises for change – they can’t seem to keep these promises for a day, let alone a parliamentary term.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how Scotland voted on Brexit or what experts have said

The former Bank of England governor Mark Carney told a journalist that he warned the UK Government that Brexit would cause a weaker pound, higher inflation and weaker growth.

Who’d have thought back in 2014 that all the Better Together threats and scaremongering about independence would rebound like a boomerang and instead characterise Scotland’s experience within the Union?

READ MORE: Twitter fact-check tries to call out Mhairi Black - and fails

It is worth remembering that the Scottish Government continues to do everything within its power to mitigate the economic situation. The Trussell Trust suggests that the Scottish Child Payment has helped to slow the pace of demand for emergency food parcels.

The Government also continues to pick up the tab of mitigating earlier Tory cuts, like the Bedroom Tax and the benefit cap.

But if mitigation is the scale of our ambition, we are to be pitied. Surely our vision for our nation’s future should be greater than just defending devolution (i.e. the status quo) and picking up the pieces of the Conservatives’ mess? Our vision should be radical, transformational and ambitious.

It should raise our sights to aim for nothing less than an overhaul – an overhaul in our democratic institutions, the energy industry and food production.

I asked somebody at the weekend why they supported the Union, to which they said, “well, it works”. I asked if they thought it worked as well as it could for the children currently in poverty or the family struggling to pay their bills.

READ MORE: SNP Independence Convention: What Yes supporters thought of it

I asked if it worked for the farmer or the small business owner whose bills have spiralled and subsidies are reducing.

This person stopped to consider my question and suggested I had a point. But, they said, they couldn’t see how it would be any different with independence. And that’s the key. We are all well-versed in the challenges of today – but the public want to hear our vision for tomorrow.

Vision is what will keep us going, despite the hurdles and the frustrations. Our predecessors in the independence movement have had to travel incredible distances just to bring us to this point. Last week we lost Winnie Ewing, a great Scot who renewed our nation’s self-belief.

She did so by dreaming the impossible and exerting all her efforts in pursuit of her goal.

She was tenacious, determined and visionary. Winning the Hamilton by-election no doubt looked impossible to the onlooker, but not to her. The qualities she had are ones which need to characterise the independence cause once again.

The National:

While we have the benefit of hindsight, we forget just how radical the early achievements of the independence cause were. Most of our predecessors’ dreams felt unattainable, but for us it is now a fact of history. It can never be wiped from the history books.

Our predecessors dreamed of winning a single seat for the SNP – and then they won several. They dreamed of a parliament for Scotland – and then the Scottish Parliament was reconvened. They dreamed of a democratic route to independence – and then we had the referendum in 2014.

Helen Keller, the American disability rights advocate, lost her sight and her hearing as a very young child. She once said: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

That is very relevant to the independence cause in these days, when we can see the problems associated with the status quo all around us.

But it isn’t enough to identify the failings of today, we need to illustrate the vision for tomorrow.

READ MORE: SNP win at next election will spark preparation for ending the Union

I believe that there isn’t that much difference in outlook between some who support independence and some who don’t. What I mean is that there are many on both sides of the constitutional debate who want to see Scotland thrive.

They are desperate to see Scotland unleash its full potential – for example eradicating homelessness, becoming wealthier and delivering excellent public services.

They care very little about the constitutional debate as an abstract argument; they want to know how we build a better future for the next generation. On both sides, there are many who are sick and tired of faux outrage and shallow rhetoric.

They want to engage in a debate for truth – what will make the difference, how do we deliver change and why do we want to pursue certain policies? In short, they don’t need the gift of sight – they can already see the realities of the status quo.

What they want to see is a renewed vision

In building our vision, we must distinguish between policies and principles. The principles of self-determination, of self-government, of freedom and dignity must universally guide our approach.

And then policies about, for example, land reform, local government and the NHS transform people’s lives. Every independent country around the world engages in debate about policies – about tax, social care or education. But they do so having accepted the principles of self-government and self-determination.

As we lament the economic catastrophe unfolding before us, we must renew our vision for change. Independence is a means to an end – we need a light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s what will persuade those who are there to be persuaded.