IN Scotland we have learned three things from the fallout from the General Election. First, it has confirmed that the independence movement is so much more than the SNP. While the SNP’s majority in terms of Scottish seats at Westminster has taken a hit, the wider Yes constituency has not. Confidence is still very high within the independence-voting public and the fact that support is around 45 per cent without there even being a campaign bodes well for the actual plebiscite when it comes.

Secondly, we cannot rely solely on the SNP to carry us on the last lap to independence as various conflicting messages from some senior SNP MPs appear to show a lack of resolve within their ranks. Many people, like myself, have lent their support to the SNP in recent elections because it is the best vehicle to help us achieve independence. The leadership has been under a lot of pressure lately but must remember the party’s raison d’etre and be steadfast in achieving this.

Thirdly, the Scottish Unionist coalition, aka Tory/Labour/LibDem leaders (but not the entirety of their supporters) are terrified of another referendum. During last year’s Holyrood election, the council elections and the General Election, they spent a colossal amount of money and energy fighting against a second referendum – and lost every time. They are grasping at any and every electoral straw to promote the idea that the people of Scotland wish to remain manacled to HMS UK as it sinks beneath the economic waves, while the leaderless crew throw the lifeboats overboard and Ruth Davidson entertains the doomed plebs with her jolly laughing policeman tribute act in the saloon.

We must reject this Unionist-generated talk of kicking the indyref into the long grass and, to paraphrase another Unionist loser, send our politicians this message: “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for independence!’’

James Mills

AN ill-considered and poorly executed election campaign by the SNP has dealt independence a body blow. Their Stronger for Scotland slogan contained shades of Tory Theresa’s Strong and Stable.

The narrative for the Yes campaign and the SNP should always focus on Scotland and our journey to nationhood. Westminster is in thrall to the free market. We are witnessing the largest movement of capital from public services to private hands in the history of the UK. The destruction of the NHS. The defenestration of the vulnerable. These are messages that need repeated ad nauseam. They resonate because they are truth.

Roderick MacLeod
via email

THERE is no doubt the General Election results are a setback and the SNP have hard questions to ask of themselves. So, too, the wider independence movement. The National’s questioning of what comes next helps us to reflect and re-examine our strategy. With a weak and unstable Tory-DUP government, we need indyref2 as an option once we know the outcome of Brexit negotiations. So, this is not the time to jettison it, but we do have to learn from Corbyn’s extraordinary successful campaign. As Colin Fox observed, the SNP came over as just another “establishment” party.

The Yes movement has to take the initiative and develop the case for independence around three central arguments. The first concerns reiterating the radical case for supporting independence. The political and economic crises and the volatility around Brexit present an extraordinary opportunity for the Yes movement to show how an independent Scotland will have the powers to fix a dysfunctional labour market, tackle inequality and protect and build public services. Picking up on Maggie Chapman’s contribution, independence will allow us to create jobs around renewable energy.

The second argument relates to economic management. Dennis Canavan’s words that “constitutional change can help to deliver the bread and butter” issues resonated with me. We need to explain how an independent Scotland will have more economic leverage to address the jobs crisis for the young, end zero-hour contracts, the housing crisis, an industrial strategy that helps SMEs and much more. The third argument concerns Brexit; the Yes movement needs clarity on the specific question of whether or not Scotland should be in the EU or outside but a member of the single market.

To deliver a Yes majority, the independence movement must espouse bold and imaginative policies that change for the better the lives of Scotland’s working class. The SNP must develop a policy agenda that will garner support from former Labour voters, for without a SNP and Green majority in Holyrood in 2021 there will be no referendum. Simultaneously, the Yes movement needs to work on an independence manifesto that is not a 648-page book but a short document setting out crucial policies and actions that address issues facing Scotland’s working-class majority.

John Bratton

THE press are seeking to cause division within the independence movement over strategy when none exists. We would have been disappointed if it were otherwise.

The right to make ready for the next referendum is not the same as holding one now, and that the Unionists suggest otherwise should come as no surprise. Might I suggest that, apart from the campaign itself which will require a collegiate approach, there are three essential elements.

The first is for all nationalists to think independence. As ordinary individuals, councillors, parliamentarians and ministers we must think how we can advance the cause of independence with every major decision we make now and in the weeks and months ahead.

Secondly, we must all live as if we were independent now and emphasise in a positive way the differences between us and other nations, and ask everyone who supports our cause to identify what happens in our daily lives and work which undermines our national independence and see how these can be addressed. Thirdly, our government must seriously consider how the extensive legislative and persuasive powers it already has can be exploited to create our virtual state within a state. Every action, policy and proposed bill must be a positive contribution to the independence project. All the above require coordinated preparation, and to this end our First Minister needs to use the powers at her disposal to appoint as soon as possible a Cabinet Secretary for Independence.

The Unionists will fume, which will be rewarding in itself, but with the next Scottish election some years away we have time to create this state within a state, building people’s confidence and letting them benefit from these sweeping changes. Politics is about control, and the Scottish Government and independence movement must be bold.

Graeme McCormick

AS an SNP supporter for more than 50 years, even I was in two minds whether to vote for my beloved party at the General Election. Angus, Banff and Buchan and Moray have been the backbone of the SNP since 1974 and all were lost. There were various reasons. Some people have no time for the leader. The party’s hierarchy ignored the fact its earlier success was against the EU’s fishing policy, on which the north-east was sold out by the Tories and now the SNP.

The rise in business tax highlighted the difference in tax paid in the south-west of Scotland compared to the north-east of Scotland. My own past work experience has been to watch all parties steal money from the mouths of north-east children to supplement an overspending west coast local government. This all adds up the people of the north east seeing the present leadership turning the SNP from a national party into a west-coast dynasty. For Scotland to become united, support must cover all aspects of politics – left, right and centre. The message is simple, First Minister – widen your thinking or move aside.

Eric Watson

NOT many people object to the SNP’s core objective of independence, but after three elections where their support has declined, most recently by around 500,000 votes, we are entitled to some clarity and fairness on how they wish to pursue their goal.

Surely the best way would be for Nicola Sturgeon to announce a halt to all current efforts to secure a referendum and instead have the SNP include a commitment to indyref2 in their manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections? An election won on those terms would give them an unequivocal mandate for indyref2 in, say, 2023.

In this way, the SNP would be seen to be getting behind the UK Brexit negotiations and would have six years to develop a convincing plan for separation, including policies on currency, Europe, defence, Nato and Trident and an economy which is not underwritten by the UK.

It would also give them the opportunity to use existing powers to transform our education, social care, healthcare, housing and finances and show the electorate they have the ability, vision and determination to get our country in a fit state to go it alone. After 10 years of underwhelming performance, spin and crying wolf, surely they owe us such a straightforward approach.

Allan Sutherland

ONE-third of us did not vote at the General Election. With a campaign based on stopping indyref2, the Tories got 28 per cent support, but that’s 28 per cent of the 66 per cent who voted, ie less than 19 per cent of the electorate. Despite Ruth Davidson strutting round like a drunken fitba hooligan trying to grab the trophy, the fact is they lost.  Folk who moan about “divisive” referendums are against democracy. You can’t have democracy without division. And the idea we can have the support of everybody for independence is a delusion. We don’t need “everybody”. We just need “enough”.

The SNP shot themselves in the foot with their dithering. From late June last year, some of us were advocating a new independence referendum without hesitation or delay, in late 2016 or early 2017. If the SNP had listened, we could have held that referendum, and we could have won decisively. Theresa May would then have been in no position to call a sudden General Election in June 2017. Or, if she had, the Tories would not have been able to campaign on "stop indyref2" because it would already have happened. They would have been forced to talk about other things in Scotland, and that would not have gone well for them.

The SNP campaign was pathetic. The Labour Party had Jeremy Corbyn, and many folk believed he represented real change, even though we don’t have presidential elections, and the fact that, here in Scotland, voting Labour would mean voting for Blairites who would cheerfully stab Corbyn in the back.

However, despite the SNP’s foolish dithering, there is still a mandate for a new referendum on independence, given the outcome of last year’s Holyrood election and the June 8 election. It is time for them to stop dithering. The time for setting a target date for a new independence referendum is now. Put whoever is in government at Westminster in the position where they will have to be actively trying to prevent a referendum. All the SNP has to do is set the date. Non-party-political Yes campaigners will do the rest. 

Dave Coull

ALLOWING the Unionists within Holyrood to tell the Scottish Government to get on with the day job (which it has been doing anyway), while responding with clever retorts, is something that needs to be abandoned and quickly. The government has to prepare policy to deal with any outcome of Brexit and to seek support from the Unionists instead of pandering to their childish political games.

We need a central bank with our own currency. We need to know we have a country that can market itself in Europe and the world. But most of all, we need policies that match our desire for an equal Scotland, with a welfare policy that will help the less well-off.

GET TOUGH NICOLA! is what your supporters and campaigners are now saying. We have little more than a year in which to provide Scotland with an answer to Brexit. We know that the EU will more than likely welcome Scotland wholeheartedly regardless of which path it chooses. Now is the time to stop prevaricating, to get on with the day jobs as normal, but also to sort out Scotland in order that when we have indyref2, we know a majority will vote for independence.

Alan Magnus-Bennett