HOW time flies when you’re not having much fun! Exactly a decade ago this year, along with many others, I spoke at a rally in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh to launch the 2014 Referendum campaign.

So we have been talking about matters constitutional for 10 long years – (and obviously for decades before that, but not with the precision of a goal and a date attached.)

Frankly, I’m not in the market for ­conventions, conferences, assemblies or any more talkfests. And absolutely not in the market for any devo-max nonsense. Gradualism has had its day. It got us to 2014. It will not get us to 2023. I have zero interest in stepping stones up another blind alley.

In wedding parlance the 10th ­anniversary is tin. We seem to have morphed this into tin ears in terms of our politics.

There comes a time when the talking (and most especially the arguing) has to stop, and the serious work has to be ­advanced. There is no shortage of people beavering away at various aspects of a post independence landscape. There is however a ­shortage of the cohesive effort needed to bring all these disparate efforts together.

Those who think the most helpful ­contribution they can make to the cause is to badmouth endlessly anyone not on exactly the same page, can take their bat and their ba’ and get off the pitch. I ken fine we’re a disputatious race, but the time and the place for internecine verbal warfare is assuredly not now.

What we are, however, is a small c ­conservative nation. No barricades will be erected or harmed in this effort. We have lived through all manner of humiliations and disappointments in the last decade and not taken to our streets. It is apparently not our way.

Yet steadily, and despite no formal ­campaign, the statistics in favour of ­independence tell a tale of country which has come to accept that being governed badly by a party whom we have never voted into office cannot be the best way to build our future.

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It is not up to the empire building ­anachronism of a Secretary of State “for” Scotland to determine what constitutes a critical mass of Yes voting Scots. It is up to us to ensure we build that mass.

What has undoubtedly kept the support at high levels has been the knowledge that the current UK Government is not fit for any useful purpose.

Serial incompetence would be quite bad enough. As would malign and ­punitive policies from a dysfunctional Home ­Office allied to a Foreign Office, once the destinaton of the highest civil service ­fliers, now “led” by Secretaries of State who couldn’t pass the entrance exam.

Yet it is worse than all of that. The ­evidence of casual corruption is there in very plain sight. The more we let that ­happen without protest, without outrage, the more it becomes the accepted norm. It is not normal to cheat and lie and make a mockery of ministerial guidelines.

I’m acutely aware that the only demographic which still sets its face ­consistently against independence is my own. This is a generation which has sometimes had real cause to worry about security. Is fearful about its pension rights. Is suspicious of change even when the status quo stacks the odds against it.

This then is the generation which needs to be persuaded that all of these fears are more valid when continuing under the present Westminster regime than working to make their lives, and crucially the lives of their children and grandchildren significantly more worthwhile. Working not to make a new nation, but to restore a venerable one.

You will recall all the empty promises made at the time of the 2016 Brexit ­referendum. About taking back control, protecting and funding the NHS, freeing the UK of Brussels red tape. What a very hollow ring all that has now.

Instead of some heady freedom, our farming and fishing communities have been royally shafted. Our seafood ­industry has been decimated. And the red tape which has strangled the latter, along with all manner of manufacturing, food and drink interests, has been knitted by the bold Brexiteers.

Not so much taking back control, as creating bureaucratic constipation. ­Meanwhile it will be worth ­reminding folk that their pensions are paltry ­compared with other European nations, and we have a social security system which offers no security whatsoever; just misery and poverty.

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For all that, we have to do better than merely observe that we are ­being ­“governed” by a slew of fushionless chancers. Instead we have to ensure that a future Scottish Government can and will offer a better prospectus, not least for those grandchildren whose prospects of European study and work have been snatched from them.

Few grandparents would wish their heirs to look forward to a more shrunken future than they themselves had. Those baby boomers whose educational opportunities were bolstered by grants, and whose holidays were transformed by the advent of package holidays.

Some of them never had it so good; ­others never caught that wave, but all of them, I’ll wager, would want to ­ensure their children’s children had every ­possible opportunity of a happy, healthy, fulfilled life. We have to be in the business of offering them detailed reasons why voting Yes offers the only assurance of that.

I’m not so dewy eyed as to believe that independence will usher in a land of ­plenty for all. It will take hard work, and real commitment. What I do believe is that in order to deliver a just and ­equitable state, the government of the day has to be motivated by the right ideals.

Neither am I persuaded that being Scottish confers any special or automatic brand of empathy. Yet our attitudes and prejudices are inevitably shaped by those we vote into power.

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I’m proud that as a nation we have tried to put out the welcome mat for the ­migrants who have helped shape this ­mongrel nation. We may all be Jock ­Tamson’s bairns, but Jock’s ancestors came from a’ the airts and pairts.

Let’s stop messing with Mr Inbetween, with the chimera of a third way, with ­devo-max which is an idea whose time has gone. A toom tabard of a slogan if ever there was one.

Let’s make 2022 really matter. We have tools and chances which weren’t ­available 10 years ago. An internet explosion which can spread ideas and micro ­target information. There will hopefully be a time when we can engage freely again with the face-to-face conversations which many older voters say they value.

Meantime we still have a healthy network of Yes groups nationwide who will take little persuasion to get down to some serious campaigning; in fact it is the lack of the latter which has had so many champing at the bit.

Obviously the continuing pandemic has made many fearful of kickstarting the next big push for indy, or attaching the end game to particular dates. There are people who insist that the vast majority of Scots, battling all manner of personal difficulties, would not thank you for running an independence campaign attached to a referendum or not.

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Another perspective is that we do not govern by private polling. That if we stay long enough in the long grass our vision will inevitably be impaired. That if we ­offer a bold enough vision of a better ­Scotland, we will embolden the hesitant, and attract the waverers.

Another perspective is that we have much to gain in seizing the day and much to lose by waiting for Godot or a Prime Ministerial blessing, whichever comes along first. In truth, at my age, in my ­demographic, I have no inclination to waste any more time.