AS our First Minister has said, the opportunity to rebuild and reshape our society, economy and way of life is perhaps one positive – if there is to be a positive – that comes out of this pandemic. A policy discussion on things like work-life balance, public health or transport and infrastructure that had, until now, been desirable is now essential.

This mirrors our conversation on independence, a proposition that – as many have pointed out over recent weeks – is evolving in a post-Covid world.

As the SNP’s defence spokesperson, it has, of course, posed questions to the model we had posited for Scotland, but also allowed us to think about what independence can do to help governments respond to such crises in non-military ways.

While we have been good as a party and as a movement at identifying the small, Northern European countries we want to emulate as a healthier, wealthier and fairer independent Scotland, security has not often played a part in that discussion. I’ve always found that odd, not least because they are amongst the most resilient populations on the planet.

Perhaps because of the history, recent and ancient, of an expeditionary UK armed forces being sent across the globe, and the willy-waving associated with Trident nuclear weapons, the security discourse in the UK sense has tended to accentuate the primacy of physical security over ideas of our health or economic security – issues which Covid-19 has now shown are just as central to our wellbeing, and which all the investment in nuclear weapons could not protect us from.

The early days of the crisis were not helped by a range of right-wing talking heads demanding that the army be allowed to “sort out” the crisis. Yet, there was little in the way of counterfactual: how can a centralised and hierarchical organisation be the most appropriate response to a crisis that requires a holistic, decentralised, all-of-society approach?

And so it proved, as the most considerable burden has fallen on public services themselves – already stretched by Tory austerity. Planning – military and civilian – was found to have been undermined by making the types of cuts to resilience budgets that other countries had simply refused to make.

While of course the army has played a key role, the crisis has been mainly ground out by front line health workers, by those in supermarkets, and other hitherto unsung heroes.

Thankfully, an independent Scotland would be building on an excellent framework already in place from within the Scottish Government. Ready Scotland, and the rest of our resilience infrastructure, is unique in the UK and has been the subject of much interest by many outside Scotland who appreciate the need for the UK Government to be similarly proactive.

The prospect of independence therefore, allows us to consider what we could do to build upon that, and the lessons from our Northern European neighbours point to a concept of security where everybody, not just a remote military establishment, plays their part: one that is grounded in the cohesiveness and resilience of our societies, instead of a UK where the concept of society itself is actually disputed.

In many ways, resilience groups are already in operation across Scotland – including in my own constituency. Local groups like Castlemilk Together – a collective of housing associations, family groups, youth and senior groups – are ensuring that a community on the city’s periphery is not left behind.

Which raises the question: How do we build on that? How can government help people who want to be useful to society make their contribution?

You don’t have to look far to find the benefit of more formal, citizen resilience programmes. Denmark has the Beredskabsstyrelsen – the Danish Emergency Management Agency. Germany has the Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk – the Federal Agency for Technical Relief. These agencies – made up in part or by a majority of volunteers – can be utilised by state authorities whenever a crisis occurs, be it a natural disaster, an attack on critical infrastructure or a pandemic like we are experiencing now.

They can provide emergency services with a surge capacity in critical areas when required, meaning those key workers can focus on their primary roles.

The crisis has opened the nation’s eyes to the amount of good going on in our communities, but there is an untapped willingness beyond what already exists to step forward and assist when needed most. That eighty thousand people responded to the Scottish Government’s call for volunteers – the same number of volunteers signed up to Germany’s resilience agency – should put to bed any doubt that there is not. To put that in perspective, that’s over 200 volunteers for every council ward in Scotland.

Of course, I have noticed that sometimes similar ideas are championed by right-wingers keen to provide public services on the cheap, even when the examples from Northern European neighbours show that it is precisely the existence of well-funded public services that the delivery of such sound resilience.

You cannot successfully have one without also having the other.

The debate we want to be having now is how we augment the work already being done by volunteers, and how we permanently enshrine the centrality of well-funded and resourced public services to all our security, melding these two together in a more resilient and secure independent Scotland.

We will all know the great Hamish Henderson’s song Freedom Come all Ye.

The line “Nae mair will the bonnie gallants / Mairch tae war when oor braggarts crousely craw” has long been seen as a post-independence security policy we would want to sing about.

In a resilient Scotland, there’s another line that appeals to me: “In your hoose a’ the bairns o’ Adam / Can find breid, barley-bree and paintit room.”