NICOLA Sturgeon is going to take the proposal for another independence referendum off the table, crowed the Unionist press. She’ll bow to the inevitable and won’t be serving up something Scotland doesn’t want, said the Conservative supporters who’ve managed to turn the normal processes of democracy on their head. Only that’s not what’s happened; however much the Unionists would like the proposal for another referendum to be as off the table as a plate of salmonella fish, the tasty dish of Scottish independence remains very much on the menu. The Unionists wanted the Scottish Government to absolutely rule out another independence referendum within the lifetime of a Parliament that’s already voted for one, but that’s not what they got.

For all the rumours and reports that there was going to be a U-turn, we ended up with the strangest U-turn in the world. The Scottish Government originally proposed to give the people of Scotland an opportunity to vote on independence once the outcome of Brexit had become clear, and they’re still proposing to give the people of Scotland an opportunity to vote on independence once the outcome of Brexit has become clear.

The Scottish Government was correct when it made its original proposal that the people of Scotland get to have their say on the outcome of Brexit, and it’s correct now when it says that the people of Scotland should have their say on the outcome of Brexit.

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Scotland hasn’t consented to being ripped out of the EU. Scotland hasn’t consented to austerity and to the confusion and incompetence of the Conservative government. We’re now in a period of immense uncertainty, being led along a path to Brexit by a bunch of self-serving Conservative careerists without a roadmap, without a sense of purpose, without a mandate, and indeed without a clue. It would have been an act of huge folly for a Scottish Government which was elected on a mandate to hold another independence referendum precisely if Scotland found itself in these uncertain and unpredictable circumstances to rule out another referendum because circumstances are uncertain and unpredictable.

It was always the case that Scotland wasn’t going to have another independence referendum until there was greater clarity on the outcome of Brexit, but that was spun by the Unionist parties who campaigned as though another independence referendum was going to be held next week. What has changed is that we are now clearer on the timing of a referendum, and it’s been made explicit that the timing of the referendum is dependent on the progress of Brexit. There will be no announcement on seeking the legislation to put the referendum into effect until autumn of 2018, by which time we ought to have a better idea of the depth of the mess into which Brexit has thrown the UK.

We’ll also know by then the extent to which the UK government has taken the needs and voice of Scotland into account. As of now, Theresa May’s understanding of taking Scotland’s distinctive voice into account has consisted of sticking her fingers in her ears and repeating “I’ve been very clear, Brexit means Brexit”. Despite the fact that the real loser of the General Election was Theresa May, her government shows no willingness to take the needs of a remain-voting Scotland into account. It shows no willingness to concede that the General Election changed anything much at all, and yet Theresa May and the Tories have the gall to demand that a party which didn’t lose its majority changes its plans.

The storm clouds of Brexit are gathering. The early signs in the negotiations with the EU are that the UK is not going to get all the cake that was promised by Boris Johnson, and the innovative jam predicted by Andrea Leadsom is as invisible as all the other jam that the Unionist parties have traditionally promised Scotland. The opening of the negotiations was marked by a humiliating reverse for Brexit Secretary David Davis, and it’s going to be the first of many national humiliations to come.

It’s now up to Westminster to demonstrate that it’s giving Scotland a place at the negotiating table, that it’s listening to the concerns of the Scottish Government, and that it’s prepared to ensure that Scotland remains a part of the single market, vital as that is for Scotland’s economy, jobs, and future. The signs of Westminster doing that, it has to be said, are not good.

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech wasn’t parking the idea of an independence referendum at all, it was a call to arms. We cannot rely on the incompetence and confusion of Westminster to make the case for independence for us. We cannot sit back passively, reacting only to events beyond our control. Independence is all about Scotland taking its own destiny into its own hands, and that’s precisely what we must do now.

One of the most welcome parts of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech was her commitment to work actively with the wider independence movement, and to develop that wider movement. I’ve always said, and it’s worth restating, that Scotland needs party politics in order to get an independence referendum, but Scotland won’t win independence with party politics. Scotland’s independence will not be won by any single political party, no matter how important or large that party is — it will be won by a mass grassroots movement of people belonging to all parties and none.

What Nicola Sturgeon’s speech means for the wider independence movement is that we must redouble our efforts, we must develop our campaign, we must energise our local groups, we must work to take the case for independence to the people of this country. Above all, we must tell a story of independence and why Scotland needs it. We must explain, we must inform, we must educate. The independence movement needs to step up and become more visible and take the lead. We’ve got work to do. Let’s get working, and build the movement, build the case for independence, and begin to build a better country out of the wreckage of Brexit.