WAY back in 2014 – a date that seems to recede in time far beyond its nine short years – people were beginning to ask big questions.

The question was becoming less about “do we want to be independent?” as “what kind of country do I want to live in?”.

This bigger question opened minds and provoked people to consider something they had never thought of before.

Asking yourself “what kind of society do I want to be part of?” does at least two things. It first of all gives agency. It assumes that there is a “we” who can act and have volition – and have the right to consider and implement changes to the way things work.

You might assume that’s a natural and ordinary state of affairs, but in Scotland, and in Britain, it’s really not at all.

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The second thing asking this question does is it allows you to challenge things at a fundamental level.

Most of the time things are just done because its the way they’ve always been done. These people are just rich just because. This guy owns this massive amount of land just because he always has. This group of people die prematurely just because they always have.

The status quo was under threat – perhaps briefly – for a moment in 2014. But dependence won. The people who didn’t want to run their own country and elect their own government won the day, and everything that was predicted fell into place.

We did get Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. We were ejected from the EU despite our vote. “Federalism” never appeared. We did have increasingly bizarre authoritarian and reactionary governments imposed upon us. Devolution itself was, and is, under relentless attack. Policies that directly undermine and threaten Scottish interests are developed.

All of this was predicted in the result of a No victory.

Now, in an “exclusive” interview with the Scotsman’s Westminster Correspondent, Alexander Brown, Alister Jack has accused the Scottish Government of bringing legislation purely to “manufacture grievances” in a response to the call for the decriminalisation of all drugs for personal use.

It’s a strange notion that a government would sit about just thinking up policies on the basis of what would annoy their political opponents but that is what Jack alleges.

He speaks of Scotland’s elected government like a recalcitrant child, and his manner oozes patrician condescension. He explains that the Westminster government had to impose Section 35 orders to keep the Scottish Government in check.

Jack (below), who will stand down at the next election, was one of the few to stand by Johnson as his entire cabinet resigned in a matter of hours. He refused to vote for the sanctions recommended by the Privileges Committee.

The National: Scottish Secretary Alister Jack attacked proposals to decriminalise drug possession

Rejecting the idea that Johnson was the best recruiting sergeant for independence, Jack instead heaped praise on him.

The Scotsman scribe asked Jack why he had such praise for Johnson. Jack responded saying that Johnson had “got the big calls right”, a sort of vague homily that is often trotted out in defence of the former PM without having to resort to facts or evidence or examples of these “big calls”.

But its Jack’s wider answer that is most revealing.

He said: “If I take Boris and what he did for Scotland, I found everything he asked for, including structural funding and the spending powers in the UK Internal Market Act, and protecting Scottish business through the Internal Market Act – I got total support from Boris on that”.

I mean, of course you did.

The lens through which Jack sees the world is personal fealty. He was uber-loyal and got some crumbs off the table in return.

THE Internal Market Act is the principle means to undermine and destroy devolution so yeah, thanks for that. There is no notion that he could or should be speaking up for Scotland. None. Ever.

Jack will depart after the General Election leaving a trail of ill-will, and a putrefied set of relations all laced with barely concealed contempt.

It’s amazing that Jack doesn’t face more public hostility, but then, what forum would that be in? When was the last time you saw Jack, or indeed any governing Conservative appear at an open public event in Scotland?

But back to the drugs.

Elena Witham, Scotland’s drugs and alcohol policy minister described the proposals to decriminalise as “ambitious and radical, grounded in evidence, that will help save lives”.

Scotland has a chronically high drugs death rate and the plans are aimed at tackling that.

Rishi Sunak immediately poured scorn on the proposals and a spokesman said he would retain his “tough stance on drugs”.

Labour’s Rachel Reeves took no time to also denounce the plans.

Witham has argued: “If you push people who are using drugs to the margins, that’s when bad things happen to people.

“If you actually allow people to have all of the information that they need, based firmly within a harm reduction model, people are going to come to less serious harm.

“We need a 21st century framework to build around a public health approach.”

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But Westminster and the 21st century are barely compatible.

The UK’s drugs policy is 50 years old. English media political culture would not allow such a policy innovation. The red-tops would go nuts. Such an expression of contemporary radical health policy must be suppressed. It might work.

In a way the drugs policy and independence are the same thing. Both are about treating adults like responsible grown-ups free to make their own minds-up and decide their own affairs. This is an intolerable idea to the British establishment.

WHAT we need to return to – and this issue offers a space for this debate is asking the question: “What kind of country do I want to live in?”

If your answer is “ want to live in a country where the important decisions about how we organise things are outsourced to a neighbouring country” then sit back and enjoy the show.

Decriminalisation is a policy with results across the world.

Scotland has chronic problems that cannot be resolved within the suffocating confines of Westminster’s embrace, whether it’s Jack’s patricianism or Labour’s dire managerialism – both result in the stultifying nihilism of British rule.