Jim Sillars: Impatience on Indyref2 could lead to another defeat

There were reports over the weekend of Yes being potentially split over what kind of Scotland will be promoted when the next independence referendum is held (a socialist or New Zealand market model); and Pete Wishart MP being abused on social media for daring to suggest it might be sensible to wait a while before demanding another go.

These are frustrating times for Yes people, and turning in on themselves is a natural political phenomenon that requires some sensible thinking and handling before it becomes damaging.

Those of us who have been a long, long time in the independence movement have seen this kind of frustration boil over several times as people fall out, not about the objective, but how to get there.

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SNP MP Pete Wishart rails against online abuse from indy supporters
Peter Wishart, an SNP MP, found himself on the receiving end of an angry mob on social media

But all those times were when things were bad, with the idea of independence widely derided.

Pete Wishart was in the SNP during those times, when it was difficult to keep the faith.

For anyone to believe this man would sell the jerseys now does their mental condition a disfavour, not his.

To stop a split developing and verbal bile via social media becoming the language of discourse, there is a need for some rational thinking with consideration of where Scotland stands at present, assessment of issues that will determine the new policy positions we shall need, and an honest admission of what the present Yes movement is and is not, and why that is a dangerous weakness.

Peter Wishart, an SNP MP, found himself on the receiving end of an angry mob on social media

The Brexit question

The Scotland that was in 2014, inside the EU, is not the Scotland that is going to be with Brexit; and that will not be clear until the Brexit treaty is signed, and studied in detail. Until that is done, we shall not have any definitive policy on a future Scotland on which to fight an independence referendum.

That political, constitutional and legal equation has to be tackled first before we have any idea of when, and how, to fight another referendum and win.

And win: we cannot afford another glorious defeat brought on by impatience.

Then there is Yes itself. We have a movement, but not a coherent Yes organisation. That should be the priority right now.

If we are to build a majority, once we know what policies to deploy when the terms of Brexit are finally known, we need to be strong on the ground, capable of launching and sustaining an educational campaign to take us up to 60 per cent in the polls, and stay there over at least six months, so that our support is rock solid and our demand for a referendum unstoppable.

This analysis, which I suspect is shared by Pete Wishart, is not a sell out. It is the reality. The 2014 campaign gave us a foundation of 45 per cent upon which to build, but to raise that to a level of victory demands a high level of maturity, wisdom, and organisation so far missing.

Jim Sillars is a former Depute Leader of the SNP