I’M delighted to report I am indeed the SNP prospective candidate for Stirling and am looking forward to the hunt. My MEP role, of course, continues while I fight the seat, so while I’ll be busy out and about in Stirling I’ll keep this column to wider issues around where politics is and where we might be going.

Because I think there is a tectonic shift under way in Scotland right now, and Stirling is potentially the fulcrum of it. The Brexit debacle is nearing, if not the end, then certainly another pinch point, and the task for all of us in the Yes movement is to build the case to stop Brexit altogether or if we can’t by the simple fact that we can’t tell England what it wants (despite the fact the opposite does not hold true, a fact not lost on a lot of previous No voters), then convince the people of Scotland that independence is the best way out of it.

READ MORE: Fury as PM says Sturgeon should not be at Scottish climate summit

But one comment from the last few weeks particularly resonated with me. In the thoughts around the fifth anniversary of the independence referendum, I was struck by, I think, a particularly insightful comment from the excellent Doug Daniel on Twitter. He castigated those who, wrongly, characterised the independence campaign as divisive, nasty or unpleasant with the fact that, on the Yes side at least, it really wasn’t.

Yes, it was robust, passionate, exciting, but having spent pretty much every day on the campaign trail one way or another I can truly say I never saw any nastiness.

There was a market in the right-wing press for hyped-up stories about abuse, usually on social media by anonymous sources, and some politicians were forever complaining about the ghastly Nats being beastly to them, but I never saw any of it. I’d admit there is a small amount of nasty folks on Twitter and I condemn all abuse, but they are not the mainstream.

READ MORE: Jackson Carlaw didn't tell senior Tory MSPs about Brexit U-turn

On the ground in real life the Yes campaign was relentlessly positive, a debate of competing possibilities about what sort of Scotland we need to make our lives better. In the EU or out the EU? A Nordic-style high tax high service model or an Irish low tax FDI model? How would we take our place in the world? The No campaign, by contrast, was rooted in defending the boring old status quo, and focussed, by their own admission, on “Project Fear” to give the impression that this is as good as it gets. No wonder people on the No side remember it as unpleasant, for them it was. Because of the poverty of argument from their own leadership.

2014 was a transformative event in Scotland’s politics. The people of Scotland went from “could we” to “should we” become independent, and while a majority were unpersuaded, 45% were and remain up for it. Brexit has pushed a lot of people in that direction, with even more people asking genuine questions about how independence will make their lives better. We have a golden opportunity to build the case.

But if 2014 was transformative in the psychology of Scotland, it was even more so for Scotland’s political parties. The SNP emerged from the disappointment of the loss stronger than ever, united, focussed, disciplined. The party won the 2015 Westminster election in a spectacular result, then suffered a minor reversal in 2017 as some of those seats reverted back, but we remain in good heart having just achieved the best ever result in a European election, winning three out of six seats nationwide.

But the 2014 referendum finished Labour. A lot of decent folks I know in Labour still have unhappy memories of 2014 because it demonstrated so clearly that the party has so comprehensively lost its way. They cannot out-Union the Tories, and they cannot out-Nat the SNP, and their leadership chose the UK over Scotland, providing the foot soldiers for a Tory-funded campaign that had nothing to do with aspiration or ambition. There was a brief Corbyn bounce in 2017 but it is long gone.

The Tories enjoyed a brief renaissance under their now former leader Ruth Davidson, who was able to maximise her media-friendly winsome character to weaponise “No to Indyref2” sufficiently to benefit in the 2017 election, winning a few seats.

The National: Ruth Davidson was very skilled at weaponising the Unionist voiceRuth Davidson was very skilled at weaponising the Unionist voice

But again, the wind is comprehensively gone from their sails and it is difficult to underestimate the existential debate under way in their ranks now. Their attempt to depoliticise themselves as the Ruth Davidson Party has been rather weakened by the resignation of the former future First Minister, and there is an existential battle under way for the soul of that party. Disclaimer, I have friends who are Tories, and I think Scotland’s politics are better for a debate and a plurality. I think there is a necessity for a right of centre voice in our national debate, we’d be the poorer for it if there wasn’t.

But the Tories are, I think, going to need to choose between their current two names, Conservative or Unionist, and I think they’ve picked the wrong side. Where Davidson could talk the language of devolution, she in effect weaponised the Unionist vote, and the rum bunch of folks who unexpectedly found themselves elected in 2017 have proven the dangers of unexpected political success. Their conduct at Westminster proves it, their Scottish branding is just a wrapper, they are not Scottish Tories, they are UK Tories in Scotland. They could have acted as a bloc, they have more seats than the DUP, and been the powerbroker over the last few years when a weak and divided Tory party could have been swayed to their moderate will.

Look at the influence the Bavarian CSU has in German Federal politics by being close to, but not part of, the CDU. The Tories in Scotland chose instead to be wholly owned subsidiaries, compliant lobby fodder.

Jackson Carlaw’s conversion to a No-Deal Brexit just on Monday proves the degeneration is complete. They’ll back anything, justify anything, to try to avoid any criticism of the Union. A Poundland DUP without the songs. This doesn’t chime with the traditional Tory values of moderation and pragmatism. This is why they’ll fail. There is a place for a right of centre voice in Scottish politics, but the current leaders of the Tories are so obsessed with the constitution they’ll justify anything. The people of Scotland deserve better.