FOR me, the belief in Scottish independence will always be contemporary for all times and for all circumstances.

A few years ago I won protection from unlawful discrimination for every independence supporter.

Like me, many believe Scotland should be an independent country because it is a nation and we should have the right to make our own decisions, like any other normal country in the world.

People in Greenock wouldn’t accept people in Inverness making decisions on which roads should be fixed there so why should people in Scotland accept a government based in London making decisions about what our priorities should be?

There is no set of circumstances that would make me believe the people of Scotland should not make the decisions about how we live our lives. Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands isn’t just a slogan. In five words it encapsulates the entire argument for independence.

However, many of our fellow Scots won’t accept independence is right for all time and seasons. We who campaign for our right to self-determination must therefore make independence relevant to their everyday lives.

A statistic jumped out at me last week from the Alba Party’s social media account. In a few weeks’ time, the 60th Wee Alba Book meeting will have been held. Over the past year Alba have toured Scotland, listening to people and putting forward our new case for independence.

Since 2014, I’ve heard many times that we need to “convert No voters to Yes”. But other than pointing to the bogeyman at Westminster, what has actually been done to help achieve this?

Because since 2014 we’ve had Brexit, the threat of Boris Johnson, actual Boris Johnson and Westminster wrecking the economy – and the dial for independence has not significantly shifted.

If in another universe there was to be an independence referendum on October 19, 2023, as was promised “no ifs no buts”, what is the Scottish Government position on many of the key issues that people who didn’t back independence in 2014 tell us were the reasons they voted No?

What should the currency of an independent Scotland be? What will pensions look like? How will they be paid and how will we fund them? How will the issue of a border with England work alongside wanting to be part of the EU?

We know these are issues people want to know more about but despite a series of Scottish Government policy papers that have a lot of gloss on the front covers, there has been a lack of substance inside.

If you get along to a Wee Alba Book meeting – or look out for the latest edition this year – you will hear all of these questions answered.

You’ll hear how Scotland can speedily set up our own currency. The world has changed since 2014. A currency union made sense then but if Westminster doesn’t want Scotland to have its share of the asset why would we saddle ourselves with allowing the Bank of England to set our interest rates ?

For much of our lives the phrase “sound as a pound” was an expression of absolute dependability – but then Westminster tanked the economy and inflation began to shrink the value of the money in our pockets and our savings.

In 2014, Labour were the cheerleaders of scaring pensioners with the notion that with independence they would lose their state pension. It was a grotesque lie then and it’s easily debunked now.

You only have to point to the hypocrisy of a Labour Party that says it will use a windfall tax on Scottish oil and gas reserves to fund a council tax freeze in England to understand how silly it is to suggest that an independent Scotland couldn’t look after its pensioners much better than the UK does now.

On the issue of borders, the Windsor Agreement has made an issue that’s different from 2014 due to Brexit much easier for us to navigate.

A few months ago, the UK Government would have said it wouldn’t be possible for an independent Scotland to be part of the single market and have the same trading relationship with England that it enjoys today.

But that’s exactly what Northern Ireland now benefits from. It shares a land border with the EU and is allowed access to the single market whilst maintaining its healthy trading relationship with the rest of the UK. Rishi Sunak called it “the best of both worlds” and it creates a model for an independent Scotland. As Alba point out, we can be a member of the European Free Trade Association, gaining speedy access back into the European marketplace, while continuing to trade without friction with the rest of the UK.

All of these issues, and many more, have been addressed head on by Alba. And as we provide the arguments and the answers, we give confidence to those who are undecided to then put their faith in an independent Scotland.

Today, The National has exclusively revealed the results of a new poll commissioned by Alba, a survey of people across Scotland as to what their views on the question “Do you believe that the next five years living in the UK will be better or worse than the last five years living in the UK?”

The results did not surprise me, but for the independence movement they should provide an opportunity. In total, 63.8% of all respondents think that the next five years will be worse than the previous five years.

But surprisingly, despite Labour and the Tories both hoping to win the next General Election, a majority of both 2019 Labour voters and Tory voters in Scotland believe that the next five years will be worse than the last five years. For the LibDems, almost two-thirds have no hope for the future.

Of course, back in 2014, it was these three parties that joined together to give us The Vow that if we didn’t vote for independence then things would get better for Scotland.

Then we had Brexit imposed upon us and the past five years have seen a drastic drop in living standards. What chance have we got when even the supporters of Unionist parties think life in the UK will be even worse by 2028 than it is today!

A crisis of confidence now engulfs the UK. People across Scotland have lost faith in Westminster’s ability to govern, and they have lost faith in the future of this United Kingdom.

Restoring faith and confidence in the ability of the Union to adequately serve Scotland is now a tough grind considering the people of Scotland have lost all faith in the political parties that once did the heavy lifting for UK plc.

If we want to win over people who voted No in 2014 – or those who chose not to vote or weren’t old enough to vote – we should reflect the message that the hope for a better Scotland, free from Westminster, can see an overwhelming majority of Scots give independence their support – against the despair of a future as part of the UK.

Payment for this article is to be donated to Home-Start Renfrewshire and Inverclyde. Home-Start is a local independent charity which has been set up to give friendship, advice and practical support to families who live in the Renfrewshire and Inverclyde areas and who have at least one child under the age of 5.