THE political landscape keeps shifting and shows no signs of slowing.

Breathlessly from the amazing indyref campaign of 2014 and SNP victories at Holyrood, to the Tories’ surprise win in 2015, and the even more surprising victory of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Fast forward to Brexit, the fall of Cameron to the rise of May, the Labour coup, Corbyn’s re-election, the crisis in Ukip and the looming threat of Aaron Banks starting a new populist hard-right movement.

In all this political upheaval it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that our economic, democratic and environmental systems, the things that really matter to people’s lives, are at or near breaking point. What does all this mean for Scotland, the idea of independence and in particular the notion of a progressive alliance in which parties come together the break the Tory stranglehold and usher in a new and much more democratic and egalitarian era of politics for Scotland and beyond?

I write as the chairman of Compass, a London-based but UK-wide campaigning organisation that has championed the notion of such a progressive alliance.

Compass started in Labour but five years ago opened its membership up to people of all parties who share our values and now has members of the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and Labour on its board. It has been quiet in Scotland because Common Weal has done the much of the ideas job we would have done. But now we need a UK debate about the relevance of the progressive alliance and in Scotland that means starting with the SNP.

But just one more piece of throat clearing: Compass didn’t take a view on the indyref. As a UK-wide membership organisation that would have been problematic, but when we talked about it the overall sentiment was one of ambivalence. The Scottish people should get what the Scottish people want. And Compass couldn’t lose. We either got something more like Denmark on our borders making the case for a better society or we could continue to work with progressives north of the border for progressive reform. We marvelled and envied the depth and the quality of the political debate you had. But where are we now?

The SNP has clearly replaced Labour as the dominant centre-left party in Scotland – but in terms of anti-austerity measures, Trident and much else there is little between the party’s leadership in Holyrood and Westminster. The membership surges in both SNP and Labour follow similar demographics. Of course Scottish Labour hates this – but they cannot be allowed to veto a deal that makes sense for the whole of progressive politics.

And while we fully recognise the principle aim of the SNP is to secure independence, the reality is that a winnable second indyref is now some way off. Given Brexit uncertainty and the oil price slump, when is Yes likely to have a sustained and big enough lead to take a second chance?

So what is the SNP to do in the meantime other than slowly try to build support for independence? In particular what are its MPs going to do – other than oppose a majoritarian Tory Government, and what are the limits for a Holyrood Government still tied to a Tory-run Westminster in terms of public services reform, spending and further devolution?

Enter the debate about a progressive alliance. The Tories cannot be defeated without a pincer movement in key seats against them through Greens, Liberal Democrat and Labour tactical voting. And Labour is never going to form a workable government coalition without some form of SNP backing. Such an alliance could stem the tide of any Tory resurgence north of the border and give SNP MPs a key role in government and therefore a reason to go on backing them. And Holyrood would then have a partner to work with in Westminster on the economy and other key issues, not an enemy.

Labour, of course, is unlikely to back independence. But a cornerstone of any such alliance would be maximum devolution to the regions and countries of the UK. So Home Rule for Scotland.

Of course all this won’t be easy. If we cast our minds back to 2015, Ed Miliband was under attack for looking like he might be in the pocket of the SNP. The lesson is not to shun talks but have them open and early. And the first duty of such a government would be to introduce proportional representation – which to the SNP’s credit, it supports for Westminster despite the fact it will lose some seats – and then the Tories are in trouble for good. Exactly how such a progressive alliance would work and where is all up for grabs. But if we don’t explore the issue now then the crisis of our economy, democracy and environment will simply go on and a regressive alliance of the right will sweep all before it. People of like minds are going to have to work together.

Neal Lawson is chairman of Compass and will debate the idea of a progressive alliance tomorrow.