BY the time you read this, you may already be living in the era of the new First Minister, lucky you, but I’m still stuck in the past, at the fag-end of Nicola Sturgeon’s tenure, with some hope and a question. The hope, a thin one, is that things are going to be different. The question, an important one, is what the new leader is actually going to do about people like me.

That question really matters because as soon as the identity of the new First Minister is known, the people he or she needs to be addressing changes. For the last few weeks, it’s been all about the SNP membership: the 125,000 people, sorry 100,000 people, sorry 78,000 people who have a vote in the contest. These guys are the hardest of the hard core and that has guided the language the candidates have used: heavy on the I-word, not so heavy on words about how to realistically get there.

Now that the membership has voted however, and no longer has to be appeased for a bit, things need to change. Ideally, the new leader will focus on what needs to be reduced – poverty, hospital waiting times, drug deaths – but we know they’re likely to focus instead on what they need to increase: support for independence. It’s one of the most extraordinary facts of the last eight years that, given all the pain, the pushing and, worst of all, the endless pamphlets, support for Yes is broadly the same at the end of Sturgeon as it was at the start. Her successor will want to change that.

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The problem for the new guy is they won’t be able to achieve that aim without working out what they can do about convincing the doubters, the sceptics, the refuseniks and the realists and that must mean a change in some of the core tactics (repeated over and over again) that characterised Sturgeonism and Salmondism before it. Ms Sturgeon is apparently learning to drive a car these days but if she’d done it years ago, she would’ve learned that when faced with an obstacle, one must stop or go round it rather than angrily crash into it repeatedly while hoping for the best.

The obstacle in question here is in several parts, all related: the refusal of the UK Government to countenance another referendum, the refusal of many Scottish voters to be convinced by the SNP’s position on borders, currency, banks, pensions, etc, and the failure of a succession of apparently open goals – Tories, Tories, Tories – to turn things around for Yes. In the face of all of that, the question is what the new First Minister will do with voters like me who, even now, are not prepared to vote Yes.

The first part of the answer lies in the ruins of the gender reform bill. Personally, I was supportive of the principles of the bill – still am – but the Scottish Government’s reaction in the face of the UK Government blocking the law was typical of an SNP strategy that Ms Sturgeon thought would work but never has. What she assumed was that voters would be so offended and angered by the UK Government being involved in Scottish policy that they would be driven into the arms of Yes. It meant the SNP trying to rustle up righteous fury that most people just weren’t feeling.

In fact, most Scottish voters are much more sophisticated: they know how the British constitution works and they accept that compromise and disagreement is part of the deal. They may even rather like it that way: if Scotland was independent, the gender reform bill would now be law and Isla Bryson would be ensconced in a women’s prison. In other words, just because something’s Scottish doesn’t mean it’s right.

The obvious solution is for the new First Minister to change tack, reduce the settings on the anger-o-meter and emphasise cooperation. The two governments, Scottish and UK, already work together in lots of ways behind the scenes, but if the Scottish Government talked more openly about cooperation as a good thing, before and after independence, the doubters might be more convinced. Calm the hell down and sell us the positive idea of a self-governing nation cooperating in a looser family of nations and ceding sovereignty where necessary and we might be more prepared to listen.

A similar change is needed on the SNP’s approach to a second referendum. For years, its ministers have banged lecterns and said the referendum is what Scotland wants, but again the approach fails on two counts. Firstly, the cycle just repeats without a result: as Kenny MacAskill has pointed out, Scotland cannot forever be stuck between “we demand a referendum” and “you’re not getting it”. And secondly, the idea of a referendum being what Scotland wants is based on the very shoogly foundation of the SNP and the Greens winning 49% of the vote at the last election.

The new First Minister could fix this problem by essentially re-setting SNP policy to the way it used to be, which is that referendums and independence should only happen when they’re the settled will of the Scottish people. To be fair, Ms Sturgeon was starting to make the odd nod in that direction but it was never enough and her successor would be wise to learn the lesson. I get it that a nationalist having to acknowledge independence is a long way off is not a happy place, but better the long-term effectiveness of realism than the short-term comfort of denial.

There are other steps the new First Minister could take to win over people like me – people who have, crucially, been watching the effects of Brexit in Northern Ireland. We are repeatedly patted on the shoulders by the SNP and told not to worry our pretty little heads about any potential problems with an English/Scottish border. But then we read the headlines and the stories about businesses in Northern Ireland and the terrible difficulties Brexit has caused them. The new First Minister acknowledging that there could be similar difficulties in Scotland post-independence would be a good, a real, step forward.

None of this will be easy, obviously, for a new First Minister to contemplate but if they’re tempted to carry on as normal, they should reflect on where the strategies of the past, the Sturgeon strategies, have actually got the SNP. They should also reflect on the potential benefits of a different approach. Calmer. More realistic. More honest. Less angry. Couched in such a way, their ongoing campaign could bring about better results than the angry impatience of the past few years. It could convince more people. It could even convince people like me.