FOR Scotland, this is a crossroads General Election. It’s hard to see it any other way.

If the SNP become a decisive bloc in a Westminster “progressive alliance” on Thursday, it’s likely that the gradualist approach to independence will click on a few notches, heading towards something like a confederal position.

The SNP will also have an unprecedented role in UK state affairs – and will have to figure out how to relate to something more than another social-democratic government.

If Johnson and his oligarchic ultra-capitalism gains a Conservative majority next week, then the SNP and the independence movement are in a countdown scenario with Westminster.

Not because of any indy deadlines we might set, but because the existing regulatory powers of Holyrood will be an impediment to Brexiteer trade deals – and must be removed.

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The first road sees Scotland involved in all-islands reform and reconstruction, before it approaches the challenge of assembling an indy majority.

The second road asks the SNP, the Greens and the wider indy movement to consider whether they have to stop playing by certain rules, in order to pressure an intransigent UK government on an indyref.

High times – and very different political universes. Though unless the CorbLab street operation and youth registration is set to seriously subvert the polling trends, the second road is currently much more likely than the first.

But let’s fondly imagine the first road for a moment. Four political processes will be running in parallel: Labour’s Brexit efforts (new deal and referendum), Labour’s UK/domestic policy agenda, the SNP pressing for Holyrood’s right to schedule and hold a second indyref, and the next Holyrood General Elections in 2021.

These are all stacked in a Jenga tower of interlocking and tricky possibilities. But for the sake of entertainment, I’ll hazard some likely sequences.

Let’s accept that Europe would be relatively happy about either a Remain or a Norway-style Leave outcome of any BrexitRef2, and negotiating matters would pass quickly. So it’s the Labour Party’s domestic policy agenda that would be the major force to deal with.

It’s a blunt question. Are SNP ministers really all that upset by Corbyn and McDonnell’s reheat of “stakeholder” capitalism, which gives workers rights and returns (either in services, funds or wages) from corporate hoarders of capital?

I guess this would be the time we’ll find out whether the Scottish left’s suspicion about Charlotte Square neoliberalism taking grip of the SNP Government is justified.

My bet is that moving to something like the German model of green industrial capitalism – the overall expert assessment of the Labour manifesto – will hardly be a problem for Sturgeon and co.

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The proper tension will be around whether those funds and policies come from a directive centralism, a Brave New Whitehall. Or whether they are made possible via the appropriate development of Holyrood’s powers. London-centric Labour could still blow it there.

A 2020 indyref placed in the hands of Holyrood? I’m sceptical that it will either be granted, or be a deal-breaker for a functioning confidence-and-supply arrangement between Labour and SNP. I’d also suggest that it’s knife-edge as to whether, under these generally progressive conditions, we’ll have an SNP-Green majority in the Scottish Parliament.

So this path from the election crossroads involves Scotland in a period of reform and repair across these islands, one way or another. Looked at with a very long lens, would it be preferable to achieve indy next to a polity and economy that was reasonably congruent with Scottish aspirations? In the same way the Scandinavan-Nordic countries benefit from their convergences? Yes, it would.

But here’s the other road from Thursday … A Johnson Tory working majority – as looks likely from polling – presents all of Scotland, not just indy supporters, with a dramatic set of challenges.

The National:

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From studying the intentions of people like Dominic Cummings and the Britannia Unchained Tories over the past few years, my assessment is that they will govern through taboo-busting, picking internal enemies, and a completely post-fact media and communications strategy.

The overall policy endpoint, as the marketer Martin Sorrell put it a few weeks ago, is to remake Britain as “Singapore on steroids”. The flagship policies will be things like freeports established on major coastal towns – where trade rules can be evaded, money laundered, and cheap manufacturing encouraged.

These will be executed in a centralised fashion, and will have Union Jacks and HM logos plastered all over them.

I also predict that there will be a very early attack on the powers of the Scottish Parliament, portrayed as sand in the gears of this new, deregulated, trade-deal-making Brexitannic capitalism. The major “taboo” they’ll aim to break here will be whether the Scottish Parliament should exist at all.

For the indy political classes and movement, the stakes are at their highest. Robin McAlpine from Common Weal tirelessly points this out. Our most reliable path to indy will come from solid and credible plans for the establishment and construction of a Scottish state – taking centre stage in our policies and actions. Suck reality and attention on to our ground, not theirs. Would such a change of discourse make an indy majority at Holyrood 2021 more or less likely? Under the dramatic and threatening circumstances of a Brexited Westminster, one might hope more. It’s undoubtedly a shot to the remaining foot of Scottish progress if that majority doesn’t happen. Rip Van Winkle would have voted for another period of somnolence.

BUT presuming we can maintain a head of indy steam through the first 24 months of a Johnson administration, then there are two clear possibilities to be ready for, if Scottish democracy gives us another set of indyref mandates.

Johnson in government may turn out to be an aggressive, intransigent Unionist, braiding the necessity of an all-islands trading zone with a British-nationalist rhetoric. If so, then it’s hard to see how strategies of non-compliance and acting “as if” indy can be ignored. Scottish sovereignty, such as it has amassed itself, must put up some resistance.

The activist Micheal Gray has spoken of this following scenario: If your Scottish policy advice tells you to set up a “clean room” for hardened drug users, but UK laws supervene, then set it up anyway and defy UK law to stop it. Or imagine a digital parallel currency being set up, to encourage endogenous commerce among Scottish enterprises. Again, if it’s ready to up and run, who comes in to switch the lever to “off”?

It’s possible that such a wave of irritating Scottish disobedience may be the trigger for the second major possibility. There’s a clear opportunity for Johnson to tie his depthless cynicism to his taboo-busting behaviour.

What if he springs an indyref2 on Scotland that sacrifices an old Union for a new one – and grasps the advantage of a baked-in perma-Tory electoral majority in England and Wales?

We may be pulling for indy – but Johnson might see the deep political advantage in pushing us towards it. Rousing the English nationalism just under the surface of Brexit is one chaos-and-polarisation strategy that the ultras of Downing Street might well reach for, if things look rocky.

So if we’re being ushered to the indy door, and we manage to step through, then I also imagine we’d face a Brexit state pursuing every negotiating advantage over assets and sovereignty that they could.

We’d have to turn quite firmly towards Europe and Nordics/Scandinavians – through EU or EFTA membership – as a buffer against the undercutting savagery of a fully unleashed Brexitannia.

And maybe our biggest cultural challenge would be to get people to accept a not-entirely-frictionless border with England/the rUK. Though if the indy process turns out as brutal as I’m suggesting, such a mild border between two significantly different polities may just seem commonsensical.

So, to say the least, a crossroads for Scotland next Thursday. Up here, we must effectively vote pro-indy and anti-Tory. But never was Scottish’s political distinctiveness more vital for our own future.