Confounding many unionist commentators, support for independence is reaching a sustained majority in the opinion polls, despite the context of coronavirus.

Indeed, many independence supporters also felt at the onset of the pandemic that the context would marginalise moves towards a referendum. Instead, the issues have cross-fertilised. Trust, a most valuable resource in an era defined by alienation from political institutions, has been placed with more confidence in the Scottish Government than it has with a mendacious group of Tories who – yet again – are in government without the democratic approval of the Scottish electorate.

In truth, rising support for independence is being driven by Westminster and an ailing British state. A cocktail of issues have come together to produce a now toxic liquor. Years of ruinous austerity – and downright cruelty pursued through a slew of punitive initiatives like the bedroom tax – have cemented a deeply felt sense of injustice. The fact that Scotland voted to Remain in the European Union, has stretched the democratic deficit to breaking point, while the centring of British nationalism and xenophobia has disaffected many who voted No in 2014.

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The General Election result of 2019 too, has served to reinforce the idea that change through Westminster is an impossibility. And Boris Johnson, a man so widely reviled in Scotland that his mere presence serves as a priceless campaign tool for independence activists, personifies the trouble the Union is in.

But despite this apparently inevitable march towards independence, supporters should cast a discerning eye over the SNP leadership and push for a revamped independence case that is fit for the post-Coronavirus world. This is especially important as the present prospectus in the form of the Growth Commission – whose chairman has argued for the ‘softest possible’ form of independence – has been so exposed by events.

For example, the commission argues for Sterlingisation as a means to "transition" towards an independent currency. In truth, it is a straightjacket, bound by economic tests that would allow UK financial institutions to prevent Scotland establishing its own central bank all but indefinitely. Had this come to pass, Scotland would have been unable to furlough workers, and would not have been able to issue government bonds. Yet this catastrophic outcome is swept under the carpet, rather than being recognised and corrected. Already years, which could have been spent bedding in the idea of a Scottish currency into the society, have been wasted.

There is further confusion. The SNP has prioritised opposition to Brexit to the extent that independence has become intertwined with EU membership. To be clear, the strategic value of this can be debated. Many would point to recent polling as a vindication of this approach. But what is particularly awkward is this has been so vigorously pursued at the same time as adopting a currency position that would actively prohibit entry to the EU. In short: it would not be possible to pursue Sterlinigisation with post-Brexit UK, and become an EU member.

Perhaps the surging polls help to assuage doubts about the coherence of the independence case among supporters. But be in no doubt, these issues are easy pickings for those who support the Union in a campaign setting. It would be folly to continue to argue for positions that are so easily unravelled. New times require a new approach – and time is of the essence. The longer the prevarication over these big questions, the more entrenched they become.

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What is urgently needed is a clear plan that can transform our economy, society and democracy. The independence movement should avoid complacency when demanding this of its leaders. When Nicola Sturgeon responds to Andrew Marr on the question of an independence referendum by saying, "as long as I need to be focusing on the coronavirus crisis and the economic legacy of that crisis that will have my 100 percent focus", that should prick up ears. Not only will the economic legacy of the pandemic go on indefinitely, but it is precisely because of the challenge that lies ahead that we require the full powers of independence.

At this time, the SNP leadership lacks a strategy that can secure genuine independence and transform society from the devastation left by the virus and a decade of Tory austerity. A plan that can galvanise the movement, inspire the population, deliver independence and transform Scotland is required. If the initiative is to be seized, no more time can be wasted.

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