WITHOUT denying the need for a strategy or preferring any one over another, far too many people fail to understand the need to take account of what happens outside the bubble of activism. Preaching to the converted may make us all feel good, but does little to convince the yet to be converted or convinced.

There is a disconnect between our ideology and the world view of the whole electorate, and in order to stand a chance of success all strategies have to be focussed around the views and concerns of those who actually make the decision – the electorate!

All those strategies have to be primarily focussed on how to convince them of the benefits of independence. Far too many of the floating voters are still to have sight of a viable way of affording independence, and the failure to provide that undermines all the patriotism, emotion and drive we as activists possess.

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Economic concerns override most other factors, and focussing on what may be important but still niche policies distracts from what we really need to do. Pursuing those niche interests acts as though we already are independent, and as we have seen are all too easily obstructed by malign external forces.

The strategy of a Westminster election always did present an open goal, and in the absence of a referendum was possibly the next best thing, but did assume that no other factor would weigh on voters’ minds. We didn’t take account of the other important factors such as getting rid of the increasingly dysfunctional Tory government, with that short-term objective probably taking precedence.

One good thing is that it has demonstrated without any doubt that Labour does not need Scotland to win at Westminster. Perhaps that is why they kept harping on about a possible hung parliament as expectation management.

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Our position was not helped by a failure to provide the wider materials and marketing around our vision, and a lack of simple but credible evidence. While Believe in Scotland has this, it is not used or referred to by our leaders. No amount of very interesting and worthwhile 758 pages of white papers can achieve that visibility. All very interesting and necessary in the background, but trying to get ordinary voters to digest it all? How many of us, for example, have actually read all that essential literature, still less remembered much of it, and who of the yet-to-be-convinced voters will be bothered to do so?

In any strategic plan it is crucial that we do not lose sight of the tactics and steps needed to lead to the goal, and more importantly be flexible enough to counter the inevitable deflections from our opponents. Those calling for more strategies have to understand these points, and even more importantly actively consider exactly what legal strategies are open to us. Frustration at those constraints spills over into in-fighting which is exactly what the Unionists want – divide and conquer!

Our tactics fundamentally still have to be focussed around the majority of the voters and not the few hundred thousand vocal activists. In this we all have a part to play, but we need our leaders to constructively engage with all the supporting groups. It may be that the SNP are the natural lead at a political level but they are only one of many groups who have to unite around the cause. We may not always be friends, but what unites us is the need for independence. The time to focus on the myriad of different niche objectives is after we have gained the ability to make our own decisions when all the political parties and views will have had a reset in the brave new world.

We now have one next goal, to return a reinvigorated SNP to Holyrood. Last week was a wake-up call and we now have a couple of years to refocus on our core objective.

Nick Cole