WITH Humza Yousaf’s resignation and months of SNP turmoil, coupled with polls suggesting the party could lose many of its seats to Labour in the General Election, there are those proclaiming that the dream of independence is over, that it is all coming to an end, and we are finally reverting to a state where independence is no longer on the agenda.

They point to the SNP’s plummeting poll numbers and argue that because the main pro-independence party has lost support, it shows that people don’t really care about independence.

I have always had a bone to pick with this argument.

I am very sceptical about this line of reasoning. The link between the SNP’s popularity decline and interest in independence isn’t necessarily a straightforward cause-and-effect relationship. We need to consider a range of factors that could be influencing both shifts in a party’s popularity and public opinion on independence.

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First and foremost, a political party’s popularity can be influenced by a multitude of factors, including economic performance, government policies, political scandals, individual political figures, and national and international events.

The SNP have certainly faced their fair share of challenges in these areas, and I believe we can all agree on that. Therefore, the decline in the SNP’s popularity could be attributed to specific issues related to its management of the Scottish Government or other political factors, rather than a general lack of interest in independence.

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It is crucial that we don’t draw simplistic conclusions about Scottish independence based solely on fluctuations in the SNP’s popularity in polls. It is necessary to thoroughly examine the multiple factors that influence public opinion on this complex issue and to acknowledge that the debate on independence in Scotland is far from over.

Some argue that independence is a distraction, diverting attention from the real issues Scotland faces. Their aim is to downplay or completely ignore this issue to focus on other political priorities. But that is wishful thinking. Ignoring the question of independence doesn’t mean it will disappear or cease to be relevant for many Scots.

Why? Because independence is intricately linked to many other political and social issues, and it will continue to be an important topic as long as it remains an aspiration for a significant portion of the Scottish population.

The National: March for Independence .Thousands of Yes supporters march across the city to mark the anniversary of the independence referendum held on September 18, 2014.  GLASGOW, Scotland on September 16, 2017  (No Byline please).

On the other side, we see independence supporters who view independence as a distinct issue to prioritise; they advocate for “progress towards independence”.

To be absolutely honest, that is not something that appeals to me either, because bluntly speaking: I’m not a nationalist. My vote can fluctuate, especially between France and Scotland, but my anchor, my roots, lie in social justice, equality, and building community.

If independence is the vehicle through which we can have these discussions, then that’s great. But if it is an independent fight (pun intended), I don’t feel very interested.

So, I have a fundamental disagreement with both staunch anti-independence and pro-independence advocates who treat it as a separate issue, either to be discarded or to overshadow all other concerns: I don’t see independence as a separate issue.

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Personally, I have a more integrated view of the independence question, seeing it as woven into a broader set of concerns and challenges facing Scotland today.

Indeed, independence cannot be considered in isolation, divorced from other issues such as healthcare, the economy, justice, and housing. On the contrary, it is closely intertwined with these issues and has profound implications for all aspects of Scottish life.

I believe that discussing independence, ultimately, allows us to talk about what structurally isn’t working in Scotland and the UK, to seek the root causes of the crises and difficulties facing this country.

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Importantly, it doesn’t prevent us from seeking solutions to immediate problems. When we discuss independence, I feel like we are opening up the conversation to more imaginative ideas, to a vision for society’s future. And I genuinely believe that everyone has a place in this discussion, not just those who support independence.

For me, the question of independence only makes sense within the broader context of the challenges and opportunities Scotland faces as a nation today.

That is why I always find it disheartening to hear politicians say “let’s not talk about it”. If we’re not talking about the future, then what is the point of politics? Why should anyone care? Ultimately, the approach of minimising or ignoring the question of independence can be perceived as a way to sidestep difficult debates and maintain the status quo.


Many of us, I feel, have a genuine sense of saturation. And I think much of this is due to the fact that we have made independence a separate thing – and therefore, essentially polarising. This has detrimental consequences for political discourse and the health of democracy in Scotland.

It leads to an excessive simplification of political positions, where everything becomes slogans, promises, and attacks, and as a result, we make no progress on anything. It creates an atmosphere of constant tension and confrontation. It fosters a toxic political environment where citizens feel disillusioned and alienated by the political process, leading to a loss of confidence in democratic institutions.

But I imagine that it is the spirit of our times that plays a role in this dynamic. It is often easier and more enticing to treat independence as a separate issue because it simplifies things and creates clearer and sharper political narratives that provoke more reactions, electrifying people. It generates conflict, like a campaign that never stops.

Someone who got me thinking about this is the Italian essayist Giuliano Da Empoli, who reflects on this phenomenon in a new collective work titled Portrait Of A Broken World – the permanent electoral campaign, the overheating, and for citizens, the exhaustion and the desire to stop caring about politics, the impression that it is all just a vast circus that serves no purpose.

In politics, we can generally distinguish between two periods: election campaigns, with promises, grand plans, and periods of governance, with compromises, disappointments, and the veneer that starts to crack.

But does this distinction still make sense though?

Look around you: political confrontation left, right and centre. Short-term strategies, all aimed at one thing: keeping issues hot, making sure tomorrow’s headlines are favourable.

A truly permanent campaign, first defined by journalist Sidney Blumenthal in his 1980 book, The Permanent Campaign, fuelled by 24/7 news, social media and their algorithms polarising the debate, caricaturing positions, making people as angry and aggressive as they can be...

The most beneficial action we could collectively take is to reposition independence within a broader discourse on the functioning of our nation, instead of attempting to preserve it in a stagnant state, floating out there without any strings.

Perhaps, we will find that it leads us to a slightly more intelligent debate in Scotland, avoiding the trap of the permanent campaign and returning to discussions about policy and politics that matter to all of us.