NO matter how much a writer, or a politician, says they like feedback, it is easier to take praise than criticism. None the less, I am grateful to a regular reader of this column who wrote to me recently to describe one of my efforts as being “a waste of guid black print”, the “misuse of the opportunity” I had been afforded to put the intellectual arguments for independence and – just to make sure I had the point – “thin gruel”.

As I am going to focus on independence this week, let’s hope he finds this dollop a bit more nutritious.

The imminent publication of the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill will confirm a determination by the UK to diminish the democratic rights of the Scottish people as exercised through their Parliament which is established by law.

Now we must either resist the bill in every way possible, or acquiesce in an accelerating process of national decline.

Some nationalists have argued that we should not defend devolution as it falls short of what Scotland both needs and increasingly wants. That, however, is not just to go back to an argument which was concluded more than 20 years ago, when the SNP agreed that the route to full nation status lay through the re-establishment of its Parliament, even with limited powers, but also misunderstands the Tories themselves.

They make no real distinction between independence and devolution. Both are contrary to the ridiculous but (in their minds) absolute and unchangeable medieval doctrine of Westminster parliamentary sovereignty and neither are tolerable.

So accepting the internal market proposals means accepting that the process of recovering Scotland’s place in the world which has been progressing steadily if slowly in Scotland for well over a century can be put in reverse – deliberately and brutally – by people we did not vote for.

The choice is crystal clear – independence or staying in Boris Johnson’s bankrupt, backward-looking Brexit Britain. The First Minister’s announcement that there will be a draft Referendum Bill published before the 2021 election marks an essential next step in answering that question.

That bill will complete the suite of legislation needed to hold an independence referendum. Instead of the single bill for 2014, this time we have established a wider franchise in one piece of legislation, the generic details that would apply to any referendum in another (there is very similar legislation at Westminster) and all we now need to complete the task is a very simple and short bill which would set the question, the timescale and tidy up some further details.

A binding manifesto commitment that we will introduce and pass such a bill if we are re-elected as a government and can command, on our own or with others, the necessary majority in the Scottish Parliament makes the issue plain – the democratic will of the Scottish people expressed as it would be in any other country by securing a parliamentary majority will lead to an SNP Government with a clear, forward-looking policy agenda, including a second independence referendum at the earliest possible date.

If that were to be defied by a minority party against democratic norms then the whole world would be the witness, and the SNP will not flinch from standing up to such bullying.

No doubt there will be those who still don’t find that commitment enough and who ask what will happen if the Tories go on saying no.

That issue was settled a long time ago too. Facing the intransigence of Thatcher – and Johnson is no Thatcher – that redoubtable campaigner Kenyon Wright answered for all democrats everywhere.

It is worth recalling his words in full: “What if that other voice we all know so well responds by saying, ‘We say no, and we are the state.’?

“Well we say yes – and we are the people.”

That yes produced a devolved parliament. It can now produce an independent one.

Let me assure my critical correspondent that I am always pleased to make the intellectual arguments for independence, although I think we should also assert some basic mundane realities such as the normality of self-government, economic success and even currencies in every other small country in Europe and further afield. If them, why not us ?

But as we limber up for that debate we should never forget Kenyon Wright’s words and Charles Stewart Parnell’s too. For “no man has the right to halt the march of a nation” and Scotland is affirming that truth once again in the face of those who are still trying to deny it.