THERE were two pivotal features in last weekend’s excellent Sunday National – Gerry Hassan’s “Independence The New Normal” and Ben Jackson’s “The New Muscular British Nationalism – Brawn Not Brain”.

I suggest both should be read in detail by all those preparing the strategy for the next independence referendum.

The stakes are now very serious, with the response from “muscular British nationalism”, as outlined by Jackson, being to metaphorically flatten Scottish nationalism.

Both features have a common thread and that is the need, if we are to convert a critical mass of the current 46% of No and Not-sure voters to Yes, for a well-articulated new “vision for independence”.

What will it look like? How will it be different from today? Is it worth the effort to change?

That vision needs to be inspiring, robust and meaningful for the majority.

It needs to be based on our shared progressive values of fairness, equality of opportunity, honesty and dignity for all.

Sadly, the articulation of that vision is not strong in the Growth Commission Report which, with all due respect to Andrew Wilson and his team, is but a continuation of the “me too” of the UK economy but on a smaller scale.

It is for our party leadership to define and articulate this vision.

They must front it as if written by themselves, and not by a delegated “expert” group.

As a party, it is their responsibility to ensure that we must never be tripped up again on the fundamentals.

Questions of which currency will we use and do we have a central bank – the answer to both must surely be yes, we will have both our own currency and central bank, and from day one.

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The comment at the time in 2014 that “the pound is our currency too” just didn’t cut it and was a critical reason for failure.

The reasons for voting No last time, as defined in the article by Hassan, must all be addressed in detail and robust responses developed as part of that new vision.

The party leadership need to do this now, not after the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections, irrespective of the results.

We already know that Boris Johnson’s response to a landslide victory, itself not at all assured, will be “no”, never mind “now is not the time”.

I am hoping that the creation of that new vision is already well developed, if not completed. Either way, it is time it was articulated to the Scottish electorate and advanced in all conversations with the media.

The party has an abundance of MPs at Westminster who should be well capable and on the case.

Let’s not kid ourselves, worse still be naive – the task ahead is daunting.

The UK state will stop at nothing to thwart the cause of independence.

You can easily see why – the loss of international prestige to England and her establishment caused by Scotland achieving independence would be deeply felt and catastrophic to their self-belief.

Internationally, that loss of prestige would manifest itself, in a practical sense, in the likely loss of the UK seat and veto on the Security Council of the United Nations, the removal of Trident from Scotland to who knows where, their loss of global military status and, of course, the loss of vast energy resources – much of which remain untapped – and associated revenues.

Moreover, the food resources from Scotland are critical to a Brexit Britain as it will be without food security.

All these are the stakes at play in England.

Here in Scotland we have one more chance, based on the democratic deficit, not having voted for Brexit nor a Tory Government since 1955.

We need our leadership to move the proposition, articulate that new vision of what excactly an independent Scotland looks like – and what it means for all those yet to be convinced.

Ian Stewart