IT is a cliche now to say we’re living in strange times, so for this week’s column I’ll think about what comes after we get through this, as I’m sure we shall.

I wrote last week that I think this outbreak will change our attitudes to a lot of things: how work works, how property works, how transport works, how the food supply works and who knows what else?

I’m the SNP’s policy development convener, and I want the SNP to get ahead on these issues and this thinking. The prospectus for an independent Scotland we put forward in 2014 will not be the prospectus we put forward next time – the world has changed.

The policy development committee is a still fairly new organisation within the party’s structure and it exists to – behind the scenes – facilitate and encourage the development of policy across our branches. The SNP is a brutally democratic party – we make policy by the wisdom of the membership deciding that we’re for, or against, something, building on an accumulation of policy going back decades. An individual wanting to change an existing policy or propose a new one simply has to bring a motion forward to their branch, and persuade them to put it forward. If it is selected by the conferences committee for the agenda for national conference, it will be presented to the hall and the members will vote for or against, or sometimes a remit back (which says it is an interesting idea that needs work or now is not the time).

We also organise national assemblies, policy-themed meetings where the members nationwide can come gather to discuss a particular topic. Not with a view to making a decision, but in order to ventilate where the party is on a particular topic and to inform a motion to go through the structures we already have. We had just set the programme for national assemblies when the coronavirus hit, so we cannot meet right now, but we can think.

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A meeting I’m keen to have post-all-this is one on Scotland’s place in the world. EU membership was integral to our proposition in 2014 and I am firmly of the view it shall remain so. We want to be independent not to be separate or apart, but to join the world, to speak with our own voice and co-operate with our friends and neighbours towards common goals.

All the problems we face are global, be it climate change, organised crime, the migration crisis or indeed a fight against a pandemic. We need an organised structured co-operation to do that. Of the bodies available to us – the UN, G20, World Trade Organisation, Nato and the EU – we’re not eligible for G20, the WTO is creaking from crisis to crisis, Nato is about defence and the UN in the absence of agreement has no teeth. The EU is it, and if it didn’t exist we’d want to invent something like it.

The last few years have not weakened the case for EU membership; they’ve strengthened it. Look at Ireland if you want to see what independence in Europe looks like in practice. It has had the solidarity of the world’s global A-Team at their back, while proudly independent. Meanwhile, Brexit has proven what Scotland staying in the UK means – being belittled, ignored and patronised. We can do better.

But the case has changed. We’ll be arguing to join the EU, not act from within – a subtle but significant change. It is right that the party should discuss our options and plot a course towards the best outcome.

We should also discuss the case for a Universal Basic Income.

I’ve always been warm to this as a concept, but I’ll be the first to admit I think it is a proposal that needs work. I think this crisis urgently accelerates that discussion.

I’m unconvinced that UBI will achieve half of what its most ardent proponents suggest, but it surely goes a long way towards them. With Spain’s announcement this week that they are urbanely looking to implement a UBI as part of their recovery programme, I think we will be able to work with our friends there to share ideas and best practice as it emerges.

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The whole point to independence is that we’ll be able to do things differently, to just recreate the UK structures on a smaller scale.

I’ll be bringing forward some ideas in my other role a foreign affairs spokesperson at Westminster on how Scotland in the world will be a different actor, not just a smaller UK without the nukes.

That’s exciting, and I think while we’re struggling through the day-to-day right now it is important to think to the future. Independence in Europe remains our best future, but the case has to evolve as the world does. We can do better than we have to date, and I’m keen to play my part in helping that happen.

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