'IT is now just over five years since the Referendum on Scottish independence and a lot has changed over this period. Despite being told that voting to stay in the UK was the only way to remain in the EU, we are now seeing Scotland being dragged out against our will, with a catastrophic no-deal Brexit now being a very real possibility. I think that if people had known at the time of the Independence Referendum that five years later we would both be leaving the EU and have Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, a Yes vote would have been an inevitability.

The Referendum campaign was an interesting and invigorating one, involving more people in front-line politics than there has been in generations. I remember the crowds of activists growing in number this time 5 years ago, meeting outside Glenrothes Bus Station as drivers tooted their horns in support. Those were hopeful days - and we should not forget that feeling of hope for the future - that things can get better.

The discussions on the topic lit up bars and cafes, shops and homes as people dared for the first time to imagine what a better country could look like.

I have heard many times from the media and from political opponents that the Referendum was “divisive” and was a bad experience, but that is because their prevailing world-view was being challenged, sometimes for the first time. If you assume that everyone thinks a certain thing and then you find out that it isn’t the case, of course it feels jarring and harsh, but for many others it was a political awakening and a realisation that politics can have a real effect on how they live their lives and the values that their country embraces.

As things stand, opinion polling puts a Yes vote in the lead for a second Independence Referendum and the question people should be asking themselves is: “If Scotland was already an independent country, would you choose to join the UK at the moment?” I don’t believe there are many people who would agree to that, and if we wouldn’t choose to join it, why should we choose to stay?

We are now seeing panic amongst Conservative politicians who have said that firstly, they wouldn’t grant the Scottish Parliament the right to hold a Referendum, even though there was a majority vote in the Scottish Parliament to do just that and that it was the manifesto pledge that the Scottish Government was elected on. They are also trying to re-engineer the question so that it is “Leave” the United Kingdom vs “Remain” in the United Kingdom, knowing full well that “Leave” is a very damaged brand after the EU Referendum. The latest gambit is that they want to change the rules entirely so that a two-thirds majority is needed for independence. I would respectfully say that people don’t try to change the rules of a game that they think they are winning'.