A FEW weeks ago, the Stirling University academic Scott Hames tweeted about what he called the “coming collapse of Yes-ism”. Having sustained its energy and unity for much longer than it “should” have following the referendum defeat, he predicted the Yes movement would “come apart as swiftly as it was formed”.

Long-suppressed splits, added Hames, would increasingly come to the surface, and while the end result might be creative Yes-ism unshackled from SNP control, equally it could end up getting very “daft” and “ugly”.

This was prescient stuff, for the past few weeks have been dominated by internecine Yes strife. The trigger appears to have been the pro-independence blogger Wings over Scotland’s decision to challenge in the courts Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale’s accusation of homophobia and, more recently, the cover of iScot magazine, which depicted a nude Theresa May, Dugdale and Arlene Foster as “The Three disGraces”.

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Basically, Yessers have split into two camps: the "radical" Left-wingers who view independence as a means to an end and dislike Wings’ stridency and approach to equality issues, and the "diehards" who view independence as an end in itself and believe platforms like Wings are a vital source of intelligence and propaganda for the Yes movement.

In general terms, the diehards are the 30-odd per cent of Scots who supported independence long before the 2014 referendum, while a lot of the radicals signed up between 2012 and 2015. The latter group were drawn to independence, at least in part, because Labour looked like a busted flush, which is where Jeremy Corbyn comes in.

As one sceptical Yesser puts it, a lot of this group got involved with the Yes movement “due to a fundamentally defeatist attitude towards the British Left”. So now that the Labour Left is on the rise in Scotland and challenging pro-Yes groups like the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), the radicals have started becoming more critical of the centrist/Blairite SNP than the diehards can tolerate.

Complicating matters further is that a lot of RIC figures are active in pro-independence media outlets like Common Space and The National newspaper, thus they’re viewed by the diehards as enemies within, bleeding-heart liberals with too much influence, and so on. Basically, the radicals are finding it difficult to reconcile their Left-wing views with the more reactionary elements of the Yes movement.

This is the background to a lot of the stuff we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks, most notably Time for Inclusive Education (TIE)’s Jordan Daly and his critique of Wings over Scotland on Common Space and, more recently, the Green MSP Ross Greer’s pop at The National newspaper. Two recent articles, meanwhile, capture the divide.

Writing in Common Space, Robin McAlpine (an intelligent diehard) defended Wings over Scotland on the basis that his working-class friends didn’t think Stuart Campbell’s writings were offensive, and that even if he occasionally sails too close to the wind the criticism was “a vendetta masquerading as virtue”.

Furthermore, McAlpine said there was no part of the independence movement he didn’t “recognise as a thread of the wonderful tapestry that makes us what we are”, chastising Ross Greer for “ripping into” The National because it’s a pro-independence newspaper and therefore beyond criticism. Greer, apparently, should have phoned its editor rather than providing a “narcissistic” airing of his concerns in print.

This sort of argument brings to mind the mindset of pro-Soviet intellectuals in the post-war era. As the historian Tony Judt observed, this was the idea that the Soviet Union was engaged in such a momentous quest that its “very ambition justified and excused its shortcomings”. Thus, sympathetic writers and artists refrained from criticising Stalin’s excesses through fear of giving aid and comfort to their political opponents. Drawing attention to Communist sins was, of course, to play the imperialists’ game.

In yesterday’s Sunday Herald, Greer wisely rejected the idea that drawing attention to Yes sins played the Unionists’ game. Reflecting on a “torrid” few weeks, he made the obvious point that all the nastiness was hardly going to win over floating voters. Refreshingly, he also acknowledged that the bile was nothing new, simply being the “latest, angriest round of behaviour” from a fringe that should have been called out (“and if necessary cast out”) a long time ago.

As mentioned above, Greer sees recent events as a deep division between those who view independence as the end goal in itself and those for whom it’s a means to an end. He cited attacks on the RIC co-founder Cat Boyd for voting Labour in June’s general election, which has since given rise to “full-blown denunciations” of feminists, LGBTI campaigners and “social justice warriors”. This, Greer contends, has come to increasingly dominate the Yes sphere.

Unlike McAlpine, the Greer camp wants this to be dealt with, especially by the SNP leadership, and not simply accepted as a colourful aspect of the Yes movement. Only figures like Nicola Sturgeon, he argued, have the political strength and credibility to bring the “zoomers” into line so why, he asked rhetorically, aren’t they?

This isn’t entirely fair – the First Minister has often called out bad behaviour online – but Greer is right that the party could do much more. As Gerry Hassan observes in a new book (A Nation Changed?) examining a decade of the SNP in government, too many SNP and independence supporters still appear to believe that blind faith is the best strategy, “as if such unquestioning loyalty produces good politics and governance”. Of course, it does not, instead stifling “innovation and responsiveness, on which all creative politics depends”.

In this respect, the Yes movement’s recent problems mirror those of the SNP. The wider independence movement rose with the party, now it’s fragmenting with them. According to reports, the First Minister will soon meet with the Scottish Independence Convention (an umbrella organisation with its share of, um, colourful characters) to talk strategy, though one suspects accounts of what’s actually discussed will be heavily sanitised.

None of this is helpful to a movement already under pressure from Brexit, resurgent Unionism and Jeremy Corbyn. Ross Greer believes the solution is “a hard reset” for the Yes movement – if only it were that straightforward.