I’M back to my usual Saturday slot, with the festivities over, facing the challenges of 2022. As well as this weekly column, I am churning through material for a book and for most of this year, the column will be the overspill of ideas from that.

Expect me to return to some themes which I have visited before, and to shuttle between the Scottish Enlightenment and the present day. Expect me also to be rather gloomy about the prospects of an early referendum. My concern is not about the practicalities. I have no strong opinions about the best path to holding a referendum, or whether one is necessary, and I also do not know how long it will take to organise one.

But I was very struck by a recent comment on Twitter that large sections of the Yes movement are depoliticised. The response to Chris Hanlon’s article on “devo-max-min” demonstrated that beautifully.

READ MORE: Chris Hanlon: Why devo-max should be an option for us in indyref2

Even before his article appeared, Kathleen Nutt wrote a news story which was designed to fire up debate. It was interesting to see people raging about Chris being “ex-SNP” – which he isn’t – or even exulting that he had lost his post as policy development convenor. One slightly more reflective tweet wondered whether he might have decided to write something to force the SNP leadership to disown completely the possibility of anything other than independence and no change being on the ballot paper.

Other people looked back to the Vow and declared that this was surrender. Unionists would only act in bad faith. On my Twitter timeline, shocked and disgusted independence supporters kept popping up.

There was a steady stream of commentary on The National’s website, with its journalists churning out eight articles about devo-max by Wednesday evening. I have put aside the draft which I had almost completed to join in the debate.

It was something of a relief to read Chris Hanlon’s own words. As always, he was thoughtful, measured, and imaginative. I smiled at “devo-max-min” hearing an echo of John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice,” but also of John von Neumann’s maximin principle, an important early step in game theory.

Both were considering roles for decision-making in conditions of uncertainty. In game theory, the fundamental problem is that we cannot know what other people will do. In considering how to achieve Scottish independence, the UK Government’s actions are uncertain, and a stumbling block for strategists.

Two things of which we can be certain, though. The people of Scotland will choose independence together. We will all be bound by our collective decisions. And, by our choice of language, we can encourage people to look at independence carefully.

In the referendum which led to devolution, Scotland was united. There was a sense of common purpose, and joy was mixed with relief after a goal on pursued for many years was finally achieved.

Since 1999, UK governments have extended the powers of the devolved government twice. We may grumble about how the current UK Government seems determined to reduce the powers of the Scottish Parliament, but the direction of travel is clearly towards greater autonomy.

READ MORE: David Pratt: We must ensure we do not fall into devo-max political ambush

However, we seem to be in much the same position as Scotland in the middle 1990s. Waiting impatiently for England to come to its senses, and turn to the Labour Party, as the less bad of the available options. Waiting for a Labour government to recognise the legitimacy of Scottish demands for independence, and to allow some form of referendum.

As we wait, there is the risk that we become fractious and impatient, bickering among ourselves. But we can also think, and plan and be ready to seize the moment when it is ripe.

Reading Chris Hanlon’s article in that light, I was intrigued by the definition of devo-max. Usually, this means granting Scotland full fiscal autonomy, with a reverse block grant. The Scottish Government would be able to raise taxes, and borrow money, making an annual payment to the UK government for a few shared services.

In thinking about the minimal constitutional reforms which would constitute devo-max, Chris Hanlon takes the Scottish Government’s approach in 2014 to its logical conclusion. Faced with a substantial minority of voters who were entirely unpersuadable about the merits of independence, and more who had no firm opinions, Alex Salmond sought to allay fears, and court the uncertain by emphasising continuity. We can think of the approach as “independence light”.

The National: Chris Hanlon was elected as SNP Policy Development Convener at the party's recent conference

Chris Hanlon (above) has come up with the requirements of “feather-light independence”. Instead of tolerating Westminster sovereignty, he has delineated how to implement the sovereignty of the Scottish people.

If the Scottish Parliament could “call a referendum by simple majority to amend the Scotland Act that is implemented based on a simple majority of the Scottish people approving it,” it need do no more than bide its time, waiting until it is satisfied that it is the settled will of the Scottish people to remove all reserved powers.

This devo-max is independence spelled differently, to reassure the anxious. It would be a gentler process of adaptation, rather than sudden change. And all as light as a feather.

I had intended this article about how government is hard, and making independence work well will be even harder. For the last seven years, despite SNP victories, the Yes movement has often seemed to be in hibernation. Hopefully Chris Hanlon’s shot of adrenaline will rouse it from its somnolence.