WHEN the next independence referendum finally gets under way, as now seems all but inevitable, some things will be clear and unchanged. Other aspects of the debate will be very different to 2014, and the campaign will need to respond to new opportunities and challenges.

What’s unchanged is the basic democratic argument, that it’s the people who live in Scotland who should decide the country’s future. A new context surrounds that fundamental argument; the Better Together proposition that staying in the UK also meant staying in the EU has been betrayed, and the promise of a stronger Scottish Parliament with legally entrenched authority has been torn to pieces by the UK Government’s contempt for Holyrood. But with or without that new context the essential argument is the same, as strong now as it ever was.

Also unchanged is the need for the campaign to draw strength from its diversity, rather than expecting every Yes voter to bury the rest of their politics. There will never be a majority if independence appeals only to those who feel motivated by flags and patriotism, and from my point of view that’s just as well. For Greens and others, independence is a step towards transformational change rather than an end in itself.

There are already enough people on the Unionist side who are willing to risk the “Ulsterisation” of Scottish politics, and that’s not a game we should play. Our cause has to be capable of appealing to people whose motivations lie elsewhere, and who will never be persuaded to vote for a radical change like independence simply because someone waves a Saltire at them. That was a challenge we faced last time, and we’ll face it again. This time, we need to reach more of those voters.

Some things, however, will be fundamentally different. Boris Johnson’s government isn’t just an incremental step following on from previous Tory governments. His agenda is so far towards the hard right that he risks splitting even his own party to achieve it; his intentions for the UK would destroy much of what even previous Conservative governments regarded as the national interest. Scotland has seen that the UK as a political entity poses a threat of Trumpian proportions.

READ MORE: Patrick Harvie: The UK has never had a more right-wing Government

The other scenario, as John McDonnell has been openly discussing with anyone and everyone except Scottish Labour this week, is that Johnson’s government is brought down and that it’s a new administration that decides to respect the decision of the Scottish Parliament and give legal authority for a referendum. This would imply big differences which the indyref2 campaign would need to adapt to.

The National: Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has opened the door to indyref2Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has opened the door to indyref2

Scotland’s natural anti-Tory majority would no longer be forced to choose between independence and a hostile right-wing UK Government; the contrast would be with a government perhaps pursuing a more progressive agenda. We would need to show that friendly but separate progressive governments in the independent countries of these islands would be able to work together constructively, and that where a shared agenda exists between independent neighbours they can still be greater than the sum of their parts. That’s a very different proposition from independence as a simple “escape route” from a toxic right-wing agenda.

The other implication is much more of a straightforward boost to the pro-independence cause – our opposition would be fragmented. Both Labour and the Tories in Scotland would be frantically blaming each other, or blaming their own UK counterparts, about why the independence referendum was even happening, instead of building any coherent case for a No vote. Many voters would still remember the broken promises of the Better Together alliance, but they would now also see both Labour and the Tories fighting each other and fighting within their own ranks. That’s a context in which the No side would be doing the Yes campaign’s work for it.

READ MORE: What lies ahead? The Scottish Greens’ future may decide Scotland’s

One more big difference, and one more thing that hasn’t changed.

Whether Brexit reaches the No-Deal cliff edge, enters another extension or an agreed transition phase, or indeed is stopped altogether, the next independence campaign will need to be ready to enter new economic territory. No longer a proposition about independence from the UK while we all stay forever inside the EU’s single market, we’ll need to be able to answer questions about what an EU-non-EU border might look like, and how it would work.

But just as Greens argued in 2014, entering new economic territory should be what gives this debate purpose. This should be an opportunity to engage with the failures and injustices of the current economic system, with the inherent exploitation of people and planet that capitalism depends on. For me, that’s the most important thing that will stay the same – asking about independence isn’t about deciding simply Yes or No, but about reimagining what kind of country we want to be.