LAST February, the SNP was reacting to Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation, an unexpected announcement followed by equally unanticipated events. A year after that political earthquake – time to take stock.

Recent Scottish opinion polling finds 53 per cent in favour of independence, with the SNP leading Labour by seven per cent in General Election voting intentions. Eight polls since September 2023 show an average 50 per cent of voters backing independence, from 45 per cent voting Yes in 2014 towards a majority now. Unrelentingly negative political opponents, hostile newspapers and media haven’t stemmed the tide.

How significant is Tory/Labour hard Brexit? Just 10 per cent across the UK think Brexit helps their finances; only nine per cent believe it benefits the NHS and 63 per cent think Brexit has fuelled inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. Just 22 per cent believe Brexit has been good for the UK: East Lothian’s 65 per cent who voted to remain in the EU might well say ‘thanks for nothing, UK’.

The Tories and Labour have unstable economic and climate change policies and won’t tax millionaires in mansions. Both parties failed to demand a Gaza ceasefire; unspeakable apocalyptic savagery, bombing and starving Gaza’s women and children continues unchecked – powerful reasons for Scotland’s voters to decide: ‘Westminster? Enough.’

Nicola’s 2023 resignation speech emphasised her love for country and party, but also invoked “brutal” politics which tested the limits of her endurance. As she stepped down, Nicola acknowledged the SNP, “the country’s most trusted party”, would now be “free to choose the right path” and grow support for independence. She added: “The longer a leader is in office, the more fixed are the opinions about them, which become very hard to change.”

Recognising that she “polarised opinion”, by resigning Nicola hoped to disarm entrenched views “used as barriers to reasoned debate in our country”. Clearing such barriers would enable “the tone of our debate to be reset”.

The polls suggest that once the noisy anti-Nicola rhetoric faded, the public conversation changed: according to Sir John Curtice, subsequent SNP party difficulties had little impact on support for independence.

Media experts and Unionists prophesying that the independence campaign is ‘over’ forget one crucial thing: voters, not politicians, will decide about independence. Since devolution, East Lothian’s and Scotland’s votes have strengthened democracy, and voters think for themselves.