YOU could be forgiven for thinking that the independence movement had been plunged into a major crisis this week as commentators queued up to warn of impending disaster.

It would be foolish to deny some obstacles on the road to independence – but let’s keep these problems in perspective. Any suggestion that the SNP are falling from grace with voters was kicked into touch just days ago when a poll predicted they would become the second-largest party and the official opposition if there was a snap Westminster election.

That doesn’t square with dire warnings that the trans rights debate was driving away SNP supporters and that plans to use an election as a de facto referendum would make independence less rather than more likely.

But it’s not just Unionists spreading doom and gloom. Some indy enthusiasts are joining in, and doing so with some glee.

It’s worth examining some of the points being fashioned into a stick with which to beat the only party which currently has a chance of making independence dreams a reality.

The growing uproar over a minuscule minority of trans people guilty of violent and abusive acts overlooks the fact that this issue has absolutely nothing to do with the gender recognition legislation passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish parliament and supported by representatives of every mainstream political party.

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The legislation simplifies the process through which a trans person can register as belonging to the gender they identify as. The vast majority of cases – and a very small number of people are affected anyway – will pass without any controversy.

There are always exceptions, and in those cases, the question will be how best to protect potential victims of violence and abuse. In the case of the convicted rapist, the end result – the perpetrator will not be incarcerated in a women’s prison – is the correct one.

That case was initially dealt with by the Scottish Prison Service – not the Scottish Government – through the rules were in place long before the changes to gender recognition procedures were even mentioned. The right decision was made and to conflate the two issues is simply disingenuous and designed to inflict damage for political ends.

The fact is that a rapist has been jailed and has no access has been imprisoned in no access to women prisoners. It makes perfect sense that a rapist should be denied even the slimmest possibility of raping again while in jail. No one is suggesting otherwise and that is exactly what has happened.

The huge majority of acts of sexual violence are committed against women by men. Enforcing a curfew at night on men in our streets would have a significant effect on reducing the acts of sexual violence – far, far more than taking action against trans people – but to do so would quite rightly be regarded as an unacceptable limit on the human rights of innocent people.

Yet for some reason, many people seem to support stripping human rights from the whole trans community because of terrible crimes committed by a small majority. It simply doesn’t make sense.

There have been some mistakes made in the presentation of the arguments in favour of trans rights. Branding everyone who raises concerns as a transphobe, for instance, isn’t the way to change hearts and minds.

However, those mistakes don’t undermine the validity of the arguments that trans people deserve the right to have their gender identity recognised. That right is recognised in countries throughout the world and supported by the United Nations. It is perfectly reasonable to include Scotland within that number, particularly in light of the steps taken to stop this rapist from raping again.

What, then, do independence supporters who remain unhappy with the gender recognition legislation want to happen next? It’s one of the few issues that attract cross-party support at Holyrood. It’s been successfully adopted all over the world. It has safeguards that prevent opponents’ worst fears from becoming a reality ... and we have seen them working. It’s not going to be ditched. Is this the issue which demands you undermine the independence campaign you have supported for years?

As there are other big issues to be decided not least the tactics to achieve independence, and, most importantly, should using a Westminster or Holyrood election as a “de facto referendum” be among them?

SNP MP Stewart McDonald recently described that plan as “a deficient mechanism for the party to opt for” which would “not deliver independence and could set our movement back significantly”. So stakes are high.

McDonald sees the alternative as building support for independence to at least 60%, which he believes could not be ignored by any prime minister and would force through a Section 30 order, giving the green light to a Westminster-backed referendum.

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There are good points and bad points in McDonald’s plan. A Section 30 referendum would indeed be better than a “de facto” referendum if we can swing it. I’m not sure I see Westminster ever agreeing to one and the risk is a long wait to move not an inch forward. An increase in support for independence to 60% or more is certainly a desirable outcome. But it’s not clear why Westminster would be forced to act on polls of 60% but not on a Yes vote in a de facto referendum.

There’s no reason why a campaign cannot be launched to push indy support to 60% or higher as well as using the next Westminster election as a de facto referendum.

Without the prospect of that referendum, it’s hard to see what would galvanise that campaign. We’ve had calls for similar moves before but no real momentum has yet emerged to launch it. Individual parts of the Yes movement remain active – particularly Business for Scotland and its Believe in Scotland arm – but without an organisation to pull all those efforts together, it remains disparate.

McDonald says the de facto referendum plan suggests the movement is seeking to solve the wrong but understandable problem of “our own impatience.” I absolutely agree that it’s time to channel that impatience into an active campaign but I doubt that campaign will happen without the carrot of a referendum this year or next.

We need the SNP to get that referendum but we need more than the SNP to create the campaign. The SNP are brilliant at winning elections but terrible – or disinterested, which amounts to the same thing – at combining with the wider movement in a concerted campaign. It’s not hard to see why.

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How could any political party successfully combine the demands of running the country at both national and local authority with running a wider grassroots Yes campaign? It’s a huge ask. But if we shouldn’t rely on the SNP to do all the heavy lifting, we do need to persuade them to work with the wider movement.

Given the lack of appetite for another Yes Scotland organisation similar to the one we saw in 2014 (not least because it failed to win the day), the absence of an agreed leading organisation for a new Yes campaign is becoming a major issue. Attempts to create one – such as the Scottish Independence Convention – have not worked so far.

The whole idea is fraught with difficulties, not least of them being how to persuade an entire movement to solidify around an agreed leadering organisation. There seem to me to be three options:

1. Somehow establish a new organisation from the component parts of the Yes movement dedicated entirely to launching and running a determined campaign to push independence support over 60%. It will need buy-in from the movement and money to drive a serious and continued focus on campaigning.

2. Back an existing organisation to become the focus of the campaign and pull resources to organise and fund movement-wide events to explore a democratic decision-making process.

3. Remain as we are, hope that a campaign emerges through osmosis and pray that Westminster continues to act so badly towards Scotland that independence support rises.

The first two options seem preferable to me but all three pose the same central question – what happens if and when Westminster simply rules out not just a vote on independence but independence itself? I’d feel a lot more comfortable answering that question in the sure knowledge that there is a sure majority in favour of independence.

A “de facto” referendum may not be the perfect solution but combined with a joint, exciting campaign which sees the SNP and wider movement join together, it’s the best option on the table to move Scotland closer to its best future.