SO English folk are gloomy, despite demographic dominance of every British institution from the BBC to the Commons. Leave voters are gloomy despite winning the right to push Britain over the cliff-edge. But indy and Remain-voting Scots – thwarted in both referendums – are the cheeriest folk in Britain.

Go figure. I’m sure Union supporters will argue that the BBC survey, conducted in late April by YouGov, found Scots are happiest because we have the best of both worlds. Good luck with that – there’s a far more likely explanation.

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Indy supporters are upbeat, no matter the setbacks, because we have our eyes on the prize and a clear, un-romanticised view of Britain’s imperial past. Indy supporters share a vision, a motivation, a goal – call it what you will, but it keeps us feeling hopeful, and our optimism might even be rubbing off on more pessimistic No voters and Conservatives. Love them or hate them, the Scottish Government believes better days lie ahead. The BBC poll suggests that such conviction really matters.

Contrast the plight of folk in England with a false vision of past glory, and a set of hard-to-eject Tory politicians on an endless, dignity-reducing mission to cut public services. No wonder gloom abounds. The BBC survey shows that in politics as in life, you reap the levels of optimism you sow.

Surprisingly though, the survey found most Scots (even Remain voters) did not identify strongly as European and felt only a little more European than our Eurosceptic neighbours. Does this mean the SNP should stop pushing the EU and Brexit as issues? We shouldn’t rush to that conclusion.

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The BBC survey asked about our identity as Europeans not our interest in Europe or its importance to our lives. These are not the same thing. I have no feeling of Catalan identity but I care about Catalonia’s future. Most Scots have no Irish identity but care about resolution of the Brexit border problem.

So I’d question the implicit assumption that ethnic identity automatically dictates rational interests. That same point arose in a poll earlier this year about immigration. In January, it emerged Scots didn’t have a very different attitude to English voters. Research for the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) found most Scots would like to see freedom of movement end. But, 63 per cent would accept free movement if it guaranteed single market access and free trade with Europe. If politics is the language of priorities, then Scots have a very different political culture to our nearest neighbours.

The BBC survey also found that just over half (51%) of Scots surveyed said Scotland was better than most other countries in the world. Just 6% said it was worse. I’m not sure what that really tells us though. It could mean we have a guid conceit of ourselves – “wha’s like us” -- but it could equally mean Scots know we are blessed compared to the majority of poor nations.

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A more controversial point was Scottish identity. The most popular factor making people Scottish, was being born here (89%). Living here for more than 10 years cut it for only a small proportion of survey respondents (35%). This may worry some folk and suggest ethnic Scots are ready to pull up the drawbridge as soon as independence is declared.

My take on it is that another mistaken assumption is at work – that a strong sense of ethnic origin weakens respect for folk from other backgrounds. That just doesn’t seem to be happening here. I’m not saying there isn’t racism north of the Border – I just don’t think it’s the particular product of a strong sense of Scottish identity.

Examine the tale of two referendums. In the independence poll, organised by the Scottish Government, all residents here could vote. Everyone felt that was fair and the idea of voting by ethnicity (letting Sir Sean vote from the Bahamas whilst English folk living here were banned) didn’t get any traction. In the Brexit vote though, it was the other way round. Being born in Britain and the Commonwealth was the only way to vote in Britain. Living here for 40 years made no difference. For Scots, that just felt wrong.

Scotland is a country where non-Scots and New Scots are equal and welcome citizens, and that’s more important than a semantic discussion about whether folk born in Wolverhampton and raised in Belfast (like me) are really Scottish.

In another question about remoteness of government, Westminster took a predictable pounding. Very few people in Scotland (11%) felt the UK Government was influenced by people in their area or reflected their concerns.

But the Scottish Government didn’t fare a whole lot better. Only 25 per cent said local people could influence decisions and just 37 per cent said Holyrood reflected their worries. That low percentage means a lot of indy supporters are worried about the absence of a vibrant local democracy here. In another question, a tiny 14% of Scots thought their local area was getting better. Almost half (47%) thought it was staying much the same and a third thought it was getting worse.

So there’s optimism nationally and pessimism locally. That should be a wake-up call for the Scottish Government. The woeful absence of formal democratic structures in grassroots Scotland is a brake on optimism and energy – no matter how many one-off grants are given to valiant but often burnt-out, local volunteers.

Research for Electoral Reform Society Scotland shows 76 per cent of Scots feel they have little or no influence over council spending or services. That’s why activists are launching a charter to call for change in Glasgow later this month. Local empowerment was Scotland’s only poor result in the BBC survey – our strongest was landscape. From a list of factors that might influence people’s sense of belonging, it scored most strongly ahead of history and cultural traditions.

Perhaps this emotional attachment to land explains widespread support for effective land reform and the large turnout at Holyrood this week for an event by by Landscape Institute Scotland, calling for a Landscape Champion in the Cabinet. We shouldn’t dismiss Trident as an issue either. The survey showed almost half of Scots thought the Scottish Government should decide whether the weapon system should be based in Scotland. Only one in three said the UK Government should decide – and that must include a lot of Unionists.

So what to make of all this? Well the key findings about the strength of Scottish identity are nothing new.

A team of Scottish academics led by Professor David McCrone has been surveying social attitudes in Great Britain on a regular basis since 1992, asking the same questions about identity and nationality. Over 26 years a consistent picture has emerged. People living in Scotland are seven times more likely to feel “more Scottish than British” than the other way round. The ratio in Wales is just two to one and in England identification is almost equal. That’s a significant and sustained difference – regardless of devolution, the indyref, Brexit or the passing of years. McCrone’s survey also found that Scottishness is a more powerful identity than class identity – in contrast to every other part of the UK – and markedly stronger than French-speaking Quebec or Catalonia, even though 50 per cent of folk in the latter back independence from Spain. It’s a stunning academic finding that’s been there to explore for a quarter of a century. Perhaps now the BBC will find it more ... relevant.

So the Scots feel extremely Scottish and yet a clear majority voted to stay within Britain. What should indy supporters make of that conundrum? Well, Scots identity is strong – but that alone hasn’t pushed independence over the line. We are civic nationalists using our heads as well as our hearts. That isn’t bad news. I’d humbly suggest the SNP should examine the weak points on local empowerment and consider tackling their centralising tendencies.

Scotland’s No voters could maybe reflect on what it means to inhabit a country whose leaders firmly believe our best days are over.

And independence supporters cheered by the news of our astonishing optimism, can raise a glass, but avoid triumphalism. We may be upbeat – but it’s a long road. So we’ll ca’ canny.

The Our Democracy campaign launches on June 23 in Glasgow. Tickets are available via Eventbrite.