OK, it’s all hands to the pump. It’s time to put wholehearted support for SNP candidates front and centre of Yes activity during the forthcoming General Election campaign and stick criticism of the party’s domestic policy shortcomings on the most distant of back burners.

This is an election – a tough battleground that needs a well-oiled electoral machine of the kind that drives the SNP. It’s not an ideas-generating forum for the shape of an independent Scotland – it’s a verdict on the wellbeing of the UK, which is either the most dynamic, job-creating, successful partnership the world has ever known (aye right), or a reactionary, archaic, market-driven posh boys club depending on your point of view.

This election is not, mainly, a judgement on the success of the Scottish Government or their domestic policy agenda.

December 12 is all about reserved powers – trade, defence, energy, drugs, trade union rights, economic policy, foreign affairs and the constitution – and on all of them the SNP’s policies are light-years ahead of the opposition.

It’s also a verdict on the performance of MPs and how well they’ve represented the interests of constituents over the last two-and-a-bit eventful years at Westminster. Once again, the SNP scores highly. Some SNP MPs are awe-inspiringly excellent politicians. Can any other party say the same?

Even “critical friends” like myself can see the importance of a big SNP tally in December, even though no amount of SNP votes or number of seats will deliver independence on a plate or necessarily stop a No Deal Brexit, and even though there are big risks attached, as the free-thinking Angus Brendan MacNeil MP has outlined.

Sure, the election does run the enormous risk of ushering Boris Johnson into Number 10 for an unreconstructed five years of political mayhem. But a second Brexit referendum might have run some of that risk too – and in any case, there’s no point looking backwards. We are where we are.

And that’s on the brink of major change – maybe not in the Government finally assembled at Westminster on December 13 (though we can pray for the ideal outcome of a minority Corbyn government dependent on SNP votes), but in the minds of individual Scots. And for the bigger decision that lies ahead about the future of our country, that’s the only arena that really matters Consider.

If the SNP puts the case for a second independence referendum at the heart of their manifesto as promised, and gains the predicted 50 plus seats, it will mean a lot more than SNP victories in previous elections. It will mean that undecided Scots have detached themselves completely from British voting patterns; have agreed that Scotland’s future is not safe in the hands of any Westminster Party and have consciously inched towards independence – many for the first time in their voting lives.

Much depends on making sure the election in Scotland doesn’t follow the weary Brexit battle-lines drawn in 2016, because the personalities and politics of the protagonists have changed so dramatically and – with the unstoppable rise of the right-wing money-men behind Boris Johnson – so have positions on Brexit.

Ask the farmers of Angus if they think crops rotting in fields after the collapse in EU workers makes Brexit worth the candle. Ask, as Scotland the Brand has been doing for years, how they will feel if brands like Scotch Beef, Lamb etc – protected by the EU – are quietly dumped next year in the much-vaunted trade deal with America.

Ask anyone in food production, how they think their business will survive any post-Brexit free-for-all, now they know that imports will initially pay no tariffs. Ask and you’ll find a farming constituency that’s very unlikely to return the Conservative Kirstene Hair.

Ask the fishermen of Banff and Buchan if they are certain access to Scotland’s fishing waters will not be traded away once a Withdrawal Bill is agreed. Ask the shellfish and inshore fishermen how they feel about paying massive tariffs on catches which overwhelmingly end up in European markets.

Ask the significant number of Yes Brexit voters in the couthy, nae nonsense North-East how they feel about voting for posh boy Boris – especially now the SNP is talking about independence? Ask, and I doubt if the support that bubbled up last time will give David Duguid a second crack at Westminster. And no – I’ve never heard of him either.

Ask NHS workers, carers and the general Scottish public how they feel about the prospect of paying up to seven times more for pharmaceuticals as the price of a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump.

Ask Scots lawyers how they feel about the efficacy of Britain’s unwritten constitution which would have permitted parliament’s suspension for weeks, if Joanna Cherry MP and an unprecedented number of MPs from all parties had not put their faith in the Scottish legal system instead.

Ask trade unionists how they feel, as hard-won workers’ rights are being set aside, in yet another sop to Donald Trump. Of course, their immediate hope may be the election of Jeremy Corbyn. But if that’s a wasted vote because Scottish Labour is in such a weak position north of the border, then what? And if Labour once again fails to beat the Tories – how do the primacy of the Union and the utility of pan-British Union structures look then?

Ask EU citizens in Scotland how they feel about a Westminster government that’s blatantly lied to them about the ease of gaining settled status and refused to consider giving EU citizens a General Election vote, even though the Scottish Parliament enacted just such legislation for Holyrood elections, with hardly a contradictory murmur last year.

Ask young people – the radical generation least inclined to vote Tory but also least likely to vote -- if their attitude to elections and the importance of actually registering and turning out are the same after two years of school protests, climate strikes and Extinction Rebellion demos.

And congratulate local branches of the Scottish Greens – all but one with a Tory MP has opted not to stand a candidate against the SNP. It’s a recognition of reality – with first past the post voting, their candidates aren’t going to win – but also a big, generous gesture they didn’t need to make. I only hope the SNP reciprocate by giving the Greens space in the cross-party, no-party independence alliance that surely lies ahead.

So which kind of General Election will we have? A personality-focused, policy-light, slugging match between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, where Nicola Sturgeon is once again excluded from leaders’ TV debates and broadcasters fail to uncover the hidden landmines in Boris’ Brexit deal?

Or the more open, far-sighted campaign that could still happen if broadcasters dump the presumptions created by the Brexit referendum and 2017 snap election, and actually explore opinion in key constituencies. My guess is that many areas – once hostile to Remain and Independence -- have shifted considerably.

Whether the election campaign tilts in that more authentic and exciting direction, or simply becomes another two-horse race, is largely out of our hands.

But we can try.

Because in trying, we excel.