THE division in Scottish politics around the independence debate means it “is time to consider a third way”, the former chief strategist at Yes Scotland has said.

Stephen Noon, who headed up the pro-independence campaign’s strategy unit in the run-up to the 2014 referendum, said that the wake of the Supreme Court case on Scotland’s right to hold a second such vote could present an opportunity.

“If the Supreme Court rules that an independence referendum bill would be beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament, that would give us the chance to pause, take a step back and think about the point Scotland has now reached,” Noon wrote in a blog post for the Centre on Constitutional Change.

Although some legal commentators, including Glasgow University professor and former Tory MSP Adam Tomkins, have argued the opposite, Noon said that “most” people think that the Supreme Court will rule the indyref2 bill is outwith Holyrood’s powers.

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If that decision is issued after the hearing in October, Nicola Sturgeon has said that the SNP will seek to use the next Westminster General Election as a “de facto” referendum on independence.

Noon criticised this approach. He wrote: “An election-as-plebiscite approach, as suggested by the First Minister, is an option, but does it really move things forward?

“Would Scotland not simply end up in a Catalan position, with no more than a questionable mandate and no real progress?

“I struggle to see how, practically, independence can be won this way … We are moving into the territory of UDIs and contested recognition. In other words, broken or bitter relations with our nearest neighbour and most important partner – socially, culturally, economically. That is not the ideal birth for a new nation-state.”

Noon (below in 2013), now a research scholar at the University of Edinburgh, suggested that fighting the election on the issue of Scotland’s right to hold indyref2, rather than declare independence, could yield better results.

The National:

However, rather than focus on achieving independence, the former Yes strategist argued that it “is time to consider a third way, one that is already very much part of Scotland’s constitutional DNA”.

Noon said that the independence debate has created a “binary” in Scotland “that is not good for our politics, certainly politics as we hoped and believed it could be”.

He goes on: “Many of those who oppose independence aspire to a Scotland with greater autonomy and in a loose partnership with both the UK and EU. That makes me believe that there is not as much of a gulf between independence and greater autonomy – what you might even call independence within the UK – as the polarised debate might lead us to believe (despite important differences).

“There is black and white, but also a significant amount of grey. There is a long stretch of this journey that pro-Union and pro-independence people could walk together now, even if the nature of the final destination is not yet agreed.

“So why don’t we begin walking together, with a new constitutional convention, involving politicians, civic Scotland and genuine citizen participation – there are many potential participative models – and see where we end up?”

Noon suggested that compromise from both the Yes movement and from pro-devolution Labour and LibDem politicians could see a more united front deliver greater autonomy for Scotland, without moving all the way to independence.

He wrote: “Could the two sides be brought together by a constitutional convention that had some shared path – for example many of the mooted elements of Labour’s ‘rewired UK' – but different possible end points – including the SNP’s independence? Is it possible for us to pause and consider another way? I’d hope so, and that does not mean I think it would be easy…

“To borrow a phrase used by Pope Francis, if you want to go fast travel alone, if you want to go far travel together. I want Scotland to go far and so, I think, do most of us.”

READ MORE: Spain violated Catalan politicians' rights after indyref, UN declares

Responding to Noon, an SNP spokesperson told The National the people had already decided that they want a second referendum.

They said: “The people of Scotland have already decided, in last year’s election, that they want an independence referendum – and as Stephen Noon himself states, there is a ‘mandate’.

“But – as is becoming clearer by the day from Tory attacks on devolution – the choice is fast becoming one between independence and an all-out Westminster assault on Holyrood, stripping away the powers people voted for 25 years ago.

“It is opponents of independence who are reneging on their multiple pledges to respect Scottish democracy because they know that in the face of Brexit and the broken promises of the 2014 No campaign, when the people of Scotland are asked again they will say Yes to independence.”