IN the early 1970s I was a member of the University of Edinburgh Labour Club whose guiding spirit was a fellow but somewhat older student of dark good looks and undoubted charism a called Gordon Brown.

Gordon was always surrounded by a group of acolytes and his will was law in the student world. Even the small but noisy extreme-left grouping on the Student Representative Council never interfered with his mastery of that political milieu which culminated in his election as the second student rector, succeeding the redoubtable – and I have to say much more approachable – Jonathan Wills.

Brown took significant and courageous steps to challenge a very outmoded and arrogant university administration and he later talked about what he learnt then about confronting the establishment.

Eventually, of course, he became the establishment as was demonstrated again this week when Keir Starmer invited him to advise Labour in its latest process of considering constitutional change which will include a “constitutional convention” to look at what needs to be done in England, as well as in Scotland and Wales.

I don’t doubt Brown’s honest and earnest commitment to devolution. Even back in 1979 he campaigned for a Yes vote in the first referendum when others, including not just Brian Wilson but also Robin Cook were against it. His support was probably crucial in 1997 when Blair was not convinced about proceeding although he now admits that he and Blair were wrong about the process strengthening the union, which was his motivation.

READ MORE: Gordon Brown told Scots won’t believe his 'squalid promises on devolution’

He was also a key figure in the 2014 independence referendum, offering reassurance to swithering No voters with a number of interventions including this one: “I would say that there is no alternative to further devolution.

"It’s not just that all parties have committed themselves to it, it’s that the people of Scotland know that these promises have been made not just by one party but all the parties that they want to see further change.”

And quoting “a politician he had heard at University” he said that “this is a promise we will keep”.

I accept that Labour has not been in power since 2010 and that therefore it has not been possible for that party specifically to deliver on its own. But of course the commitment was not just from Labour.

With the full knowledge of Gordon Brown, his successor as Labour leader, Ed Miliband, signed a front-page tabloid “Vow” with the Tory and LibDem leaders which confirmed that all the parties were absolutely committed to radical change.

This was a collective action by the UK parties and it has not been delivered. Indeed the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction with significant undermining of devolution through the Internal Market Bill, which by the end of the recent parliamentary ping-pong, and to their shame, Labour did not oppose.

Consequently, whilst I have no personal hostility to Brown and indeed have always had a perfectly civilised relationship with him, it has to be said that he and his party’s word on constitutional change can no longer be trusted.

Indeed, it actually takes some brass neck not just to fail to deliver but to actually water down the pledge which as far as I can see is merely an intention to set up a further talking shop about possible constitutional tinkering all over these islands which might happen when, and if (and much more if than when at present), Labour ever re-enters government.

“Hope deferred maketh the heart grow sick,” says the book of Proverbs.

It is clear what the choice is for Scotland now, and the continuing trail of broken promises clarify it beyond a shadow of a doubt. You can stay with a UK which will, if Labour ever holds power again, make all sorts of nosies about empowering Scottish citizens but deliver – if at all – always much less than needed, and at a speed of an almost-expired snail.

If the Tories remain in power, you can put your faith in them changing back from the nasty, right-wing, entirely anti-devolution bunch they have become to the slightly less right-wing but still mostly anti-devolution bunch they always were and doing nothing in the process.

Or you can back a speedy new referendum on independence, followed by a clear process of normalisation as a modern European nation, the offer of which will be at the heart of the SNP’s Holyrood election campaign in just four months time.

More tricks – or a treat?