NEALE Hanvey, the former SNP MP who is now the Alba Party Westminster leader, said something I agree with this week when he asserted that no one person and no one party is the independence movement.

He did so while in conversation with Nigel Farage on GB News in a discussion which was unfortunately heavily biased against the SNP and independence, like much current media. So while Neale’s comment was, I believe, absolutely correct, the location and the context were in my view unfortunate.

It is up to every individual to decide what political company they keep but personally I wouldn’t appear knowingly in the same street as Nigel Farage, let alone in the same studio. He is a man who has damaged Scotland beyond measure. He has never had any electoral mandate here and his views on a range of issues are, to me, utterly abhorrent.

I am also sceptical about the potential to convert to Scottish independence many or indeed any GB News viewers, given the right-wing, extreme Brexiteer, culture wars presenters that the channel has deliberately chosen in order to maintain and build its audience.

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Moreover, SNP MP John Nicolson has done a great job in exposing the way in which the supine ultra-establishment broadcasting regulator may have allowed the channel to breach its licence by permitting some of those presenters who are also Tory MPs to sycophantically question their own colleagues and pretend that passes for news.

Of course, it may be that Nigel thinks he can make common cause with Neale on the basis of a mutual antipathy to the SNP, utilising the old belief that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. What Farage, and his extremist fellow travellers on the Tory benches, like “Lord” Frost, really want is to get rid of the SNP and in so doing defeat the very idea of independence.

Neale, however, although he does seem to believe, along with some others I have seen quoted, that the SNP should be crushed, thinks that this would actually help the cause of independence.

Both are wrong but the second is particularly dangerous in terms of achieving what I am sure Neale and I both want for our country.

I have been an SNP member for very nearly 50 years, and despite the current really difficult times, I am proud of, and grateful to, all those who over many generations have taken the cause of independence and the party from the fringes of Scottish politics to its very heart.

There is, and remains, much good in the SNP including its camaraderie, hard work, dogged determination to succeed, generosity of spirit and passion for delivering a better Scotland on every day and in every way.

It is, of course, something of an understatement to say that there are currently serious problems needing urgent attention and which should not have arisen.

If we approach those issues properly, there are at least two positive things which might emerge from them – particularly given the clear leadership that Humza is demonstrating.

One is the review of governance and transparency which needs to ensure that the very best practice informs every action of the SNP at every level. That will change – in substance as well as style – how the SNP interact with both the Scottish population as a whole and with the Yes movement in particular and that, I hope, will lead to the second step forward.

I am encouraged by some of the discussions I know are going on about a sort of federated structure for any new Yes movement, which recognises difference of vision and political philosophy. The SNP must be willing to participate in such moves, actively recognising – as Neale has rightly said – that independence does not belong solely to the SNP or to anyone else around that table.

But suppose for a moment that the SNP were to be further damaged and disrupted by fellow nationalists, as well as by the usual range of fearful Unionists.

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The triumphalism of Farage and Frost would be nothing compared to the unbounded joy at Westminster. The Tories, Labour and even the LibDems would claim the credit and the process of undermining even the current devolved settlement would accelerate with backing from all the Westminster parties, arrogantly comfortable in their view that Scotland would never again assert itself. The lion would be back in its cage and, to mix a metaphor, would be eating up its cereal every day.

What Neale does not seem to realise is that Alba, even if treble the size they are now, would be tarnished by the same brush of failure. So would the entire independence movement because the diminishing of such a significant part of it would mean, at the very least, a considerable period of retrenchment for the idea and the campaign.

What a waste that would be of time, talent and potential and what a disaster for our fellow citizens, already facing a cost of living crisis –help for which has to come from a strong, focused SNP government at Holyrood, something else that Neale and Nigel’s view puts at risk.

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Fortunately there is another way. It involves all of us swallowing personal hurt and animosities and instead accepting that there are a range of visions of independence and that they will sometimes contend even as far as the polling place.

It demands from us decisive action to secure the means by which we can find common ground on which to campaign together for our shared goal, whilst developing ways to debate difference constructively.

International experience shows that for any independence cause to flourish, those who support it need to work together, at least until it is achieved. This is not Ireland in 1918, as some have tried to contend.

It is instead a uniquely challenging and uncertain time which could still be transformed into a moment redolent with opportunity if we hang together, rather than seek to hang each other separately.