THERE’S been quite the stooshie recently about independence. And not from the usual ­Unionist quarters I may add.

Incredibly, these heated ­discussions have been taking place in the SNP, the very party of independence, the very vehicle for Scottish sovereignty.

I find that quite astonishing. To ­argue, from the loss of a by-election and some poor polling results, that the SNP should de-centre ­independence from its raison d’etre seems to me to be a rather foolhardy and short-term response, especially when the party is pushing policies that are far less popular with the public than ­independence, and have had to do an about turn on a whole host of these policies already, with a number of U-turns still waiting (expensively) in the wings.

The fact remains that strong ­support for independence has ­endured since the referendum in 2014, with Yes outweighing No in most polls. I was disappointed that the motion I ­supported to push ­forward on independence did not make it to conference.

I’ve been getting pelters for ­suggesting abstentionism or the ­withdrawal of our MPs at Westminster if this constitutional ­impasse continues.

But my argument is that the status quo is broken, and if anyone thinks having Labour in the hot seat at Westminster will change this ­stalemate, then they’ve got their head in the clouds.

And given we’ve had mandate ­after mandate without any material change, we need to ask ourselves, how much longer can we remain voiceless?

Withdrawal from Westminster isn’t just about forming an eye-catching conga, marching out of the House of Commons and hitting some ­headlines that day. It has a strong, clear, and far wider purpose and would need to be followed up by a national assembly or similar convention in our ­capital city as we proposed in our ­original ­motion.

This assembly would ­comprise MSPs, Scottish MPs, and representatives from Scottish civic society.

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So, to those who are saying, let’s put independence on the back burner even though support for it remains higher than support for the SNP, I say, gaining a little bit more devolution isn’t why many of us joined the party or have made it our lives work to push for sovereignty for Scotland.

Devolution doesn’t release the ­immense potential of our people or our nation. If a little bit more devolution is the extent of your ­ambitions, quite frankly, you’re in the wrong party.

To put this into perspective, I’ve just returned from an inspirational and thought-provoking conference on technology in Finland, where the theme examined Architects of the Future: European Policymaking in Times of Uncertainty, Technological Disruption and Societal Adaptation.

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I was inundated with questions from more than 50 parliamentarians who wanted to know when Scotland was becoming independent and when we would be re-joining the European ­Union with the repeated caveat that they would love to have us back.

Sometimes I think politicians outside Scotland are more excited about Scottish independence than we are!

How do we get that excitement back? How do we regain the positive ground on independence for Scotland?

We need to offer an evidence-based vision for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland, with a pragmatic ­action plan that is heavy on substance and measurable success and light on style and leadership hero worship, a ­positive approach which I know our new First Minister embraces.

We need to get back to governing well, to providing credible and workable solutions to the myriad crises we face, where word becomes deed, and policy so much more than just a press release and a good photo op. We need to use every devolved power at our disposal to improve the lives of our citizens and we need to map out how we are going to do this in the short, medium and long term and get busy doing it.

I like the idea of “a leadership team”, much as I approve of the ethos of “Team Scotland” where we work together on independence across ­politics, as the Scotland ­United approach suggests.

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I also think we need to get back to a culture of respectful debate, of ­listening to our detractors, of agreeing to disagree in a professional manner and reaching consensus. In other words, a complete shift, a ­tectonic, 180-degree turnaround in how we are doing it right now.

Because the status quo isn’t working, the same old arguments rehashed and ­repackaged won’t cut it, they won’t make things better for our citizens who are sick and tired of watching us squabble over petty issues affecting a tiny amount of people while the majority can’t pay their energy bills in a country bursting with natural resources.

If we get this right, then ­independence becomes closer, and so much more viable. We all know that Westminster, red or blue, does not put our needs first, it doesn’t even put us second or third.

In contrast, the SNP have a strong reputation of putting Scotland’s best interests at the heart of everything that we do. Now our actions must take care of our reputation. ­Because there is so much to lose if we don’t step up.