Last month the Peat Worrier published a controversial post suggesting the SNP aren't too keen on debate and those members who have doubts, are being asked not to rock the boat, especially in the run up to the election. Of course the SNP is not the only political party to expect members to toe the party line, all do, but it is the only party which offers the population the choice of taking full control of its future.
The Peat Worrier recommends more discussion about the realities of an independent Scotland and in harmony with my view, he states: 'it is vital to get away from the defensive attitude that you are either for us to against us, all or nothing'. The deceased Wardog blog owner repeatedly tried to engage his readers in such a debate but with minimal results. Few were prepared to put their heads above the parapet and voice their concerns; rightly so because they were usually shot down in flames as being disloyal, uninformed or stupid.
In reply to my supportive comment to the PW, Indy responded:
Subrosa Scotland the day after independence will be exactly the same as it was the day before.
The only thing that will have changed is that the decision-making powers will have moved from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament.
Thereafter, there will be a general election and the Scottish people will decide what changes they want to see in the various policy areas that have been absorbed into the remit of the Scottish Parliament and Government.
At that point the parties will set out their positions. I can see no point now in the SNP setting out an imaginary manifesto for an independent Scotland.
I understand that people will want to know what an independent Scotland would be like but the truth is that the SNP cannot answer that question, any more than unionist parties can answer the question what will the UK be like in ten, twenty, fifty years time. None of us have a crystal ball.
That's rather like applying for a job that has no job description.
Alex Salmond said, at the weekend, that if the SNP were returned to government he would ensure an Independence Referendum would take place during his term of office. Good, but we need open debate - debate which will involve everyone not just those who currently support independence. Sound bites about a 'better Scotland' and a 'richer Scotland' are worthless. Surely if the SNP are promoting an independent Scotland they have firm policies supporting their objective and are happy to share them will everyone.
People ask me why I support independence. My usual response is that I firmly believe, as a nation, we are capable of standing on our own two feet; then the discussion usually develops into one involving education, health, security, the EU, taxation and a sustainable welfare support system - issues which matter to most of us. People do want to discuss them and they certainly don't expect the SNP to publish a hypothetical manifesto, although they're the party expected to be willing to introduce discussion into the wider public arena.
The Big Conversation was a partial flop partly because it was too formal and too 'managed'. What is needed is a much broader approach to involve everyone - not only independence supporters - and gently push them into declaring what they would like from an independent Scotland. I agree none of us has a crystal ball but we are capable of assessing the requirements needed to be autonomous. The SNP need to create a 'vision' of a future Scotland - one which is achievable. There are unionists who, if offered the opportunity to discuss their fears about Scottish independence, would be prepared to support it.
A lack of understanding creates fear. If the SNP is returned to government - and I sincerely hope it is - and Alex Salmond achieves his referendum, the SNP will have no option other than to inaugurate quality debate. That's what worries the unionists most of all; debate rather than soundbites. The SNP has nothing to fear and nothing to lose.