A LOT of column inches have been expended in this newspaper extolling the virtue of tomorrow’s Yes march and rally in Edinburgh.

I want to sound a note of caution. Not against marching but against imagining that this march is what is needed to rejuvenate the cause of independence. If that were true, then a rejuvenation wouldn’t be needed as some people have been marching for years.

I attended and spoke at a sizeable AUOB march in Glasgow in May. Some of the people I met there have marched all over Scotland, often without the benefit of much support from our elected nationalist parliamentarians.

So, I mean no disrespect to those who march or to those recently converted to the idea that marches and rallies might be a good thing.

As Lesley Riddoch argued yesterday, a big march and a rally with rousing speeches is an important sign that our movement is still alive despite the stasis of the last nine years. It is also good for the morale of the marchers. So of course, I hope it goes well.

However, those marching on Saturday – particularly those leading a march for the first time – should not make claims for it which disregard the efforts of those who have marched for years.

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Nor should they fall into the trap of thinking that another march for the already converted is what is needed to move our cause forward. I am afraid it’s a good deal more complicated than that.

Support for independence has barely moved from where it was nine years ago at the time of the 2014 independence referendum. This is disappointing, particularly because – as the organisers of tomorrow’s march have identified – Brexit has made many soft Nos more sympathetic to independence because it offers the prospect of re-joining the EU.

Indeed, research carried out by the Scottish Independence Convention has identified that there is a substantial section of the Scottish electorate who voted No in 2014 who could be persuaded to vote Yes. What is needed to persuade them is not a big march but some hard painstaking work to address their aspirations and concerns.

There is no substitute for the work needed to instil confidence that we are prepared and ready to deliver an independent Scotland that will be a good place to live. I am out and about regularly speaking to voters in my Edinburgh Southwest constituency.

There is palpable disgust at the way in which the Tories are running things at Westminster. There is also a notable lack of enthusiasm for Labour’s offering. People are amenable to the idea that Scotland could do better than Westminster, but they have misgivings and questions that need to be answered.

The National: Members of Yes for EU during a Believe in Scotland rallyMembers of Yes for EU during a Believe in Scotland rally

We must have clearly thought through positions on the big issues such as the economy, currency, re-joining the EU and the implications of that for borders and trade. Once this work has been done it can be distilled down into key messages that can be communicated by our spokespersons and activists.

We also need to work harder at governing well under the present devolved settlement. Unfortunately, we currently face a situation where many people are not overly impressed with some of the policies of the SNP/Green coalition.

They are shocked by the police investigation into the SNP finances, although many make the point that Tory corruption seems not to have prompted the same degree of police interest.

To win these people over a policy reset is needed. A return to the sort of good governance that the SNP were famed for prior to 2014 and which gave so many people the confidence to vote Yes.

Not much can be done about the police investigation, which must be allowed to take its course, but some hard decisions need to be taken about breaking with a way of doing things in our party that has led to the mess which prompted the police investigation.

It is also important that we do nothing to alienate the voters who could be won over to Yes. To do this, we need a movement that is truly inclusive rather than one that merely pays lip service to inclusivity.

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Those promoting tomorrow’s event have put a lot of emphasis on it being an “inclusive’ event. However, the meaning of the word has been somewhat debased of late. What is meant by an event or indeed a movement which is inclusive?

Surely it should mean that everyone should be and feel welcome and that there should be room for respectful debate and disagreement. There is no point in reinventing the wheel. This is how the SNP and the Yes movement used to be.

What has changed? The change I see is that now some people want to vet those who support Yes and exclude them if their opinions on all issues don’t fit with what a small self-appointed group consider acceptable. That is not inclusion it is exclusion.

Kelly Given wrote in this newspaper yesterday that “the notion that politics is just for old white men is on its way out". I’ve got news for Kelly. It’s a notion that went out a long time ago. Our two major parties are led by men from Scotland’s Asian community.

Yes, they were both privately educated and one of them is rich, but this should not detract from the importance that they have reached the top of our politics as Asian Scots.

The independence movement has a proud history of strong female leaders since Winnie Ewing came to prominence in the 60s and Margo MacDonald in the 70s.

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Indeed, the SNP’s tradition of strong women goes right back to some of the artists and writers who were there at the founding of our party in the 1930s and are sadly often forgotten or in the shadow of the more flamboyant men.

Our Yes movement is full of women who fought long and hard for equality and don’t want to see those rights undermined.

I am proud to be one part of a group of parliamentarians that boast some of the best LGB representation in Europe. Yes, there are no trans parliamentarians in Scotland as yet, but I don’t think anyone could seriously suggest that trans rights are not something that is top of our public agenda.

Our parliamentary representation is also well served with young people. Where we fall down is the lack of adequate representation of the elderly and the disabled.

Just this week the Scottish Human Rights Commission said our Parliament is not moving fast enough on enhancing the rights of the disabled. It would be good to hear more support for these minorities. So, let’s not re-invent the wheel. But let’s also not risk alienating people.

Women make up 50% of our population. Many have felt alienated by some policy decisions taken in recent years. Their rights, including their right to be listened to, are not dependent on them accepting other people’s beliefs or value systems. Equality is for everyone, and human rights are universal.

The independence movement will move forward not by “changing the guard” as some of the new cheerleaders have suggested but by attracting new and diverse support and by reaching out to those not yet convinced.

We can ill afford to lose the supporters we already have. Moreover, “the guard” cannot be self-appointed. Leaders are elected by putting together coalitions of support not by assuming the right to speak for a movement.

An inclusive movement is one where everyone is welcome. The Yes movement was and is inclusive, but parts of it must learn to be more tolerant. Now that would be worth marching for.