I SPOKE to The New European last week, ostensibly about Brexit, Scotland’s European credentials and how the 2016 referendum has impacted politics in these isles in the years since. In many ways, it was almost like a therapy session. So much change has happened!

Brexit altered the challenge we face in the independence movement. A long, traumatic and torturous Brexit process has succeeded only in leaving the UK crueller, meaner and weaker.

As I wrote in last week’s column, the UK was never really a committed partner in the European project. The UK’s stand-offish approach, combined with the anger generated by successive government failures over Thatcherism, the betrayed promise of better times under New Labour and Cameron’s obsession with austerity, set the scene for the vote, – in England and Wales – to leave the European Union.

Some see independence as a way out of the UK’s mess, some others see it as another headache at a time when life is tough enough. Brexit shows what happens when you propose radical change with not much of a plan of how to implement it.

There are fears among some in the electorate (stoked up in no large part by Unionist commentators) that independence would be a similarly painful process.

Our challenge is to demonstrate that independence in Europe will be done differently to Brexit.

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The mechanics of the process by which we can secure independence will be debated at the SNP’s annual conference in Aberdeen in October.

Yet, as I have said before elsewhere, too much time focusing on legal process and not on refining the argument for independence risks leaving us on the back foot once the process is secured.

We came close in 2014 and did a huge amount of work to close the gap. The argument was good – but ultimately not enough of the electorate was convinced by it.

We now face another crucial vote in the next General Election, which is likely to be next year but could theoretically be at the start of 2025.

What will our campaign look like? A vote for the SNP has always been a vote for independence. It is our raison d’etre along with the furthering of all Scottish interests. That, by extension, means working hard to improve the lives of all the people of Scotland, so we can widen access and opportunity for those who do not have it.

Last week’s Programme for Government gives a good idea of the practicalities involved in improving the daily lives of the people of Scotland. Focused around the three themes of equality, community and opportunity, it sets Scotland apart from the unequal, dysfunctional and broken Westminster system. Expanding access to funded childcare. Providing free school meals for all children in primaries 1-5. Increasing pay for social care staff and pledging £15 million to unleash entrepreneurial talent from all parts of Scotland. New bills on agriculture, land reform, education and electoral reform. A scheme which will go a little of the way to replace the lost Erasmus scheme.

All pragmatic and sensible measures to meaningfully change the lives of the people of Scotland for the better, even with the limited powers of devolution. A strong Scottish government standing up for the people of Scotland.

And that’s what independence is about at the end of the day. It’s not about the flags or anthems (although I will be delighted with my Scottish EU passport, of course) but about giving the people of Scotland the opportunities denied to them by this unequal UK union.

It will be satisfying to see an independent Scotland on the world map – but it will be even more satisfying when, with the powers of independence, we work together to make poverty history and see Scottish enterprise going global, being backed by a government that actually works for Scottish interests and not the narrow interests of the few.

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Deeds and vision are what we can sell to the people of Scotland, who have repeatedly put their trust in us to stand up for them over recent years. We must ensure that trust is not misplaced and lay out convincing answers which will help them overcome the challenges they face in their lives now, as well as provide reassurance that independence will not be a leap of faith but the logical next step.

At the next General Election, a strong contingent of SNP MPs can bring pressure to bear on the next UK Government to deliver radical changes which will help people throughout these isles.

It will also show that Scotland’s vision is a different one to that of broken Brexit Britain – an independent Scotland in Europe.