IF there’s one literary motif that really boots me in the heart, it’s sacrificial love: when one lover must give up another. It’s the Cathy and Heathcliff syndrome. That pair left me disconsolate when I first read Wuthering Heights at 14, with their doomed romance that could never be.

It’s Graham Greene, though, who took sacrificial love to its pinnacle in The End of the Affair. Two lovers – Bendrix and Sarah – embark on an adulterous relationship during the Second World War. When Bendrix is caught in a bombing and miraculously survives, Sarah abruptly ends their love affair, seemingly for no reason.

We later discover that when Sarah thought the man she loved was dying, she prayed to God saying she’d leave Bendrix if only the Almighty would spare him. When Bendrix survives, Sarah must tragically keep her promise to God and give up the love of her life. If you don’t cry at that, there’s something wrong with you.

Forgive my literary ponderings, but perhaps the SNP should read a little more Brontë or Greene. For if the SNP really ‘loves’ independence, then the party should let it go, just like Cathy let go Heathcliff or Sarah let go Bendrix.

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Folk today talk of the SNP ‘imploding’. Perhaps, though, it’s less a quick implosion and more a slow sinking. A Titanic-like moment, where the force of a giant ruined ship pulls down everything around it.

Independence isn’t the SNP, but independence is so umbilically linked to the SNP that the fortunes of the Yes movement are entirely dependent on the fate of a single political party. Maybe, like Rose in the movie Titanic, independence should just let the SNP slip gently – like her lover Jack – from between its fingertips and disappear under the waves. To keep hold on the SNP, will surely pull independence under as well.

This has always been the tragedy of independence: it was tied to one party. When the SNP rose, independence rose; now the SNP fails, independence is hobbled. The umbilical cord means independence cannot succeed unless the SNP is healthy.

Yet independence is perfectly capable of standing on its own two feet. Polls show little decline in independence support, while the SNP slides downwards.

Thinking Yes voters must survey today’s political landscape and admit that despite support holding up – in the face of umpteen scandals engulfing the mother party – hopes of achieving independence have never been worse in recent years. It’s the umbilical cord which is the drag factor, not the cause itself.

The Herald: A Yes march in GlasgowA Yes march in Glasgow (Image: free)

Unhappy realism is not defeatism. So let’s be both sad and honest: independence ain’t happening any time soon. That’s thanks to the SNP. Yes, the SNP took independence support to its highest ever, but that time is gone. Politics is a rough game. Once you’re of no more use, it’s time to pack your bags, or someone will pack them for you.

The SNP wounds the cause of independence daily now. Every time one leading member verbally stabs another – a relatively frequent occurrence – a knife goes into independence.

If independence is to have any future hope, now is the time for the Yes movement to start cutting the umbilical cord to the mother party, to begin the process of going it alone, free from political mastery.

It was always madness to harness an essentially civic notion not just to party ideology but the party of government. Name one government in human history which hasn’t ended in failure. If all governments inevitably go sour, then independence was always doomed because the SNP would one day sour.

Political parties – certainly in the 21st century – are cult-like. We see this across the world. This isn’t just a criticism solely levelled at the SNP, but all parties. Cult members hate anyone not in the cult.

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The anger and sneering that’s emanated from the SNP’s base over years now has been a huge anchor on independence, constantly holding it back, always failing to win hearts and minds, alienating moderates and undecideds, and continually speaking inwards to ‘the group’ not outwards to the nation.

The tragedy deepens for independence, though, as it’s hard to see a way for the Yes movement to truly break from the SNP, to become a civic rather than a political movement. Independence feels trapped, forever shackled to a declining SNP. The ideal alternative, clearly, would be something like the old Scottish Constitutional Convention, the platform for the devolution campaign. It was cross-party, and filled with a panoply of voices from trade unions to churches.

Some will say that the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) could fulfil this role. Though those voices are mostly ‘establishment’ independence supporters – for isn’t independence a thoroughly establishment cause given Scotland is governed by the SNP.

But could the SIC be the alternative vehicle for the Yes movement? Perhaps. But it’s been around since 2005, and although there’s many decent and smart folk in its ranks (and some not so decent or smart), it’s doubtful many members of the Scottish public know anything about it. It hasn’t proved itself to be a viable alternative vehicle for the hopes of the wider Yes movement. It feels like a moribund insiders talking shop, that’s still rather dominated by some far too close to the SNP.

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It’s brutal to say, but maybe the death of the SNP is needed to allow independence to go on alone, regroup and thrive. It’s far too early to write the party’s obituary, though. And it must be admitted that just because the party is in hell today, that doesn’t discount the good things it did in the past. For it did some good things. It’s simply clear that the party’s time, for now at least, is done. A period of opposition, no less, is required to reset.

Like sacrificial love, another great literary motif is that often parents must be abandoned, even renounced, by their children, if those children are to succeed. The idea is as old as Greek myth and Zeus destroying his father Cronus. For independence to survive, the SNP must walk away from its love. But that won’t happen. So should the Yes movement commit the Freudian sin of matricide and dispatch the mother party?